Breaking News Emails
A Taco Bell employee in Ohio was fired after he was accused of refusing to serve a deaf man who was trying to use his cellphone to place an order in the drive-thru.
In a video of the encounter at a Taco Bell in Kettering on New Year's Eve, 25-year-old Brandon Washburn is seen trying to get the workers' attention by holding his phone up to the closed window.
When one worker finally opened the window, he's heard in the video telling the man: “It’s against company policy. I can’t do it.”
Washburn's mother, Becky Rosemont Burch, who posted the video Wednesday on her Facebook page, told NBC News in a phone interview on Friday that her son always uses his phone to write his order when he's in the drive-thru.
“He has done this many times before at other restaurants, and has never had a problem,” she said.
Burch said the worker seen in the video was trying to tell Washburn that it was against company policy to take the order through the drive-thru and wanted her son to come inside.
“He didn’t understand what the problem was,” Burch said about her son, adding that he “knew he was being discriminated against.”
“There were several people you could see in the video, and no one tried to help,” she said.
At one point in the video, the Taco Bell worker is seen shaking his head at Washburn before closing the window and walking away. Washburn continued to try and get the workers' attention.
When the Taco Bell employee returned and saw Washburn still at the window, he is heard threatening to call 911.
"And you’re also not allowed to record me," the worker added, pointing to Washburn's girlfriend, who Burch said was filming the encounter.
Burch said in her Facebook post that the employee discriminated against her son because he is deaf.
“I taught him to be independent,” she told NBC News. “It was just very hurtful. It’s not like deafness is anything new.”
The video has been shared on Facebook more than 12,000 times with many comments calling out the worker.
Taco Bell said in a statement to NBC News that the worker, who was not identified, “no longer works for their organization” and all other employees at the Kettering location would be “retrained” on their policies.
“Taco Bell has a fundamental policy to respect all of our customers and employees, and we are committed to maintaining an environment free of discrimination or harassment,” the company said.
The National Association of the Deaf said in a statement to NBC News that all national fast-food restaurants with a drive-thru should "work with our organization to develop and disseminate a systemic fix so that none of their franchises and facilities ever again deny service to deaf and hard of hearing customers."