Arby's apologizes after employee refuses to serve police officer
(NBC MIAMI) - The head of Arby's restaurant chain has apologized to the Pembroke Pines Police Department after an employee at a South Florida restaurant reportedly refused to serve a uniformed officer.
Arby's Chief Executive Officer Paul Brown and Senior Vice President of Operations Scott Boatwright contacted PPPD Chief Dan Giustino to apologize on behalf of the organization, according to a police report.
Both men assured Giustino that the employee's behavior was "unacceptable" and did not represent the company's values. Giustino accepted the apology, and the department considers the matter closed.
On a Facebook post Tuesday, another officer alleged that on Monday, a fellow uniformed officer was denied service at the Arby's located at 11755 Pines Boulevard near the Pembroke Lakes Mall.
"Real nice, Arby's" the post says, before encouraging others to boycott the restaurant.
According to an incident report, Sgt. Jennifer Martin said she was using the drive-thru when the clerk, identified as 19-year-old Kenneth Davenport, "seemed slightly rude and short with his responses," but she assumed there was a problem with the speaker system.
But when Sgt. Martin pulled to the window and handed her credit card to Davenport, manager Angel Mirabal approached the window.
"He doesn't want to serve you because you are a police officer," Mirabal told Sgt. Martin, according to the report.
Davenport had to be ordered to process Sgt. Martin's credit card, and she told Mirabal she felt uncomfortable and wasn't certain she wanted to dine there, the report said.
Mirabal handed her the food and assured her everything was ok, the report said.
"Mirabal even laughed and said he is allowed to refuse to serve me," Sgt. Martin noted in the report.
Sgt. Martin felt uncertain of the condition of her food and decided to go inside and get a refund. She said Davenport refused to have contact with her, ignored her and refused to give her his contact information, the report said.
At Davenport's home Wednesday, his mother questioned why her son was so bad, considering he was called in to work again earlier in the day.
Davenport showed up at the restaurant later Wednesday with his grandfather and denied the accusation, calling it a joke and a misunderstanding.
"[My manager] just made a joke and she couldn't take it the right way, she has no sense of humor," Davenport said. "It was busy and then she was probably one of the last cars we had, she wasn't for the joke I guess. We're too busy so my manager's like 'oh, I get to serve you instead of him,' like he's getting overboard for that?"
Davenport added that he has no problems with police officers.
"No, not at all, never had a problem but, is this, this kind of changes me now, I'm starting to think like, could it be a publicity stunt, or what is it, racism, something, I didn't do anything to this lady," he said. "Why is this so worldwide, like you guys say? To me I'm just gonna keep living my life and whatever happens happens, there's nothing I can do at this point."
"Their job as an officer is very serious and I appreciate all that they do, but I don't appreciate my grandson that I have raised being accused in something like this," said Thomas McCutcheon, Davenport's grandfather.
In a statement, Pembroke Pines Police Department Chief Dan Giustino said he was "offended" and "appalled" at the incident, and that the department would be contacting the Arby's CEO to demand an apology.
Giustino went on to say that the incident appears to be confined to a single individual employee, and is not in keeping with the support the department regularly receives from the Pembroke Pines community.
"We are very proud of the partnerships we have built within our city," Giustino said. "For an incident like this to have happened is very disappointing for everyone."
In a statement provided to NBC 6 South Florida, Arby's said the company takes "this isolated matter very seriously as we respect and support police officers in our local communities."
"As soon as the issue was brought to our attention, our CEO spoke with the Police Chief who expressed his gratitude for our quick action and indicates the case is closed," the statement reads. "We will be following up with our team members to be sure that our policy of inclusion is understood and adhered to."
John Rivera, the president of the Miami-Dade Police Union, called for a boycott of Arby's until the employees involved are fired.
"It is beyond comprehension and deeply troubling that a business would deny service to a law enforcement officer just for being a law enforcement officer," Rivera said in a statement. "This is yet another example of the hostile treatment of our brave men and women simply because they wear a badge. It is unacceptable and warrants much more than an apology."
Arby's released a second statement Wednesday afternoon stating that they will be taking disciplinary action.
"We take this isolated matter very seriously as we respect and support police officers in our local communities. As soon as the issue was brought to our attention, our CEO spoke with the Police Chief who expressed his gratitude for our quick action and indicated the case is closed," the statement said. "We will be following up with our team members to be sure that our policy of inclusion is understood and adhered to. Further, we will be following through with disciplinary action up to and including termination of the employees involved, as appropriate."
Wednesday, August 16 2017 1:24 PM EDT2017-08-16 17:24:10 GMT
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