Papa John’s Fires Employee for Slur, Needs to Do More

A teenage cashier lost her job at Papa John’s over the weekend for using a racial slur to identify a customer who’d come into one of the chain’s Harlem restaurants. The customer, Minhee Cho, comms director at ProPublica, posted a photo of the receipt on Twitter with the message, “Hey @PapaJohns just FYI my name isn’t ‘lady chinky eyes.'”

Papa John’s took immediate action, going to its social media pages to apologize and express concern. But the assistant manager of the franchise restaurant, only identified on Gothamist as Jerome, speaks to what sounds like a larger problem.

“You know, we do stuff like that sometimes. We’ll write ‘the lady with the blue eyes’ or ‘the guy in the green shirt,'” he says, equating an offensive racial remark to a description of someone’s clothing. He adds that the attention being brought to the incident is disrupting business and that the dismissed employee probably doesn’t fully understand why she’s been fired.

While it’s good that Papa John’s took swift action, the goal here should be to keep this sort of thing from happening again. While this isn’t entirely the company’s fault (if these folks can’t understand why referring to someone this way is a problem, the problem is bigger than this incident), it’s evident that the company needs to tackle the issue broadly, reiterating what it means to give all customers good service. Rule number one: Don’t single out members of the paying public by using offensive descriptors.

For her part, Cho just says she’s shocked that this sort of thing could still happen and she probably won’t be going back to that Papa John’s for fear they’d “spit in my food.”