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Arby's employee fired for writing homophobic slur on couple's receipt

The employee was fired "within minutes" of the exchange, an Arby's spokesperson said, but the couple wants more action taken.

An employee at an Arby’s restaurant in Lafayette, Indiana, was fired earlier this week after writing a homophobic slur on the receipt of a gay couple, a spokesperson for Arby’s confirmed.

Craig Gray and John Burns were dining at the restaurant Sunday afternoon when they received their order receipt with the typed slur, which came as a “shock,” Burns told NBC News during a phone interview.

Burns said that there was a long line at the drive through when they arrived at the restaurant, so they went inside.

“We went to the counter and ordered," he said. "The cashier that helped us, the young man that's been mentioned, seemed really new and a little awkward, but very nice. So a very run of the mill type of fast-food occurrence. Nothing that you would expect out of the ordinary.”

But as the couple waited for their order to be prepared, Burn’s partner noticed that on their receipt, there was a homophobic slur in place of his name.

The receipt John Burns and Craig Gray received from Arby's.John Burns

“Shock, just absolute shock,” Burns said. “This has never happened to me in all my years. I'm from this area, and I've lived here my whole life.”

As Burns confronted the cashier, Gray posted a photo of the receipt on Facebook, with a caption that read: “So this just happened at Arby's! Happy Pride, huh?”

Burns said the cashier chalked up the incident to a “computer glitch.”

“I showed him the receipt," Burns said. "I said, ‘Look at this. What is this? Why would you do this?’ And that's when he tried to give me some lame excuse about a computer glitch, where he said ‘Sometimes I'll put in a name and it will come out different on the receipt.’"

Burns said he asked to see the manager, who refunded the couple’s order and fired the cashier on the spot.

John Burns and Craig Gray went to the Arby's in Lafayette, Ind., on June 6, 2021.WTHR

“By the time I sat down on my seat to meet up with Craig and our food, I saw him walking down the street in the parking lot,” Burns said of the terminated cashier.

An Arby’s spokesperson told NBC News that “the franchised employee was terminated within minutes of management becoming aware of the incident,” and that the company “has zero tolerance for discriminatory speech of any kind.”

However, Burns has since found the company’s response lackluster. In the days following the incident, he said corporate representatives left voicemails or messaged the couple, but when he’s tried contacting them back, he hasn’t got any response.

“I think they need to have a phone call or phone conversation with me acknowledging what's happened and apologize that way, not just a recorded message,” he said.

When asked about this, a company spokesperson said, “I can confirm that both the franchisee and us at Arby’s corporate have both reached out to the guests to no avail.”

Burns said that at the very least, he hopes this could be a teaching moment for the company.

“It would be nice to hear something from the franchise owner about maybe what they would like to do to try to combat this issue from happening again,” he said.

CORRECTION (June 12, 2021, 5:50 p.m. ET): A previous version of a photo caption in this article misstated the date on which John Burns and Craig Gray visited an Arby’s in Lafayette, Indiana. The correct date was June 6, not June 5.

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