Another reason to check your receipt: After buying a pizza from the Hamilton Heights branch of Papa John’s in New York City on Saturday, Harlem resident Minhee Cho discovered that an employee had described her using the racial slur, “lady chinky eyes.” Cho posted a photo of the receipt (you can see it at the New York Daily News) on Twitter and tweeted:
“Hey @PapaJohns just FYI my name isn’t ‘lady chinky eyes’”
Cho commented that she was “surprised” to see the racist phrase as “the lady that was serving me was super nice and we joked and it seemed super normal.”
We are very upset by recent receipt issue in New York & sincerely apologize to our customer. Franchise employee involved is being terminated.
Papa John’s Managers, Owner Respond
In addition, a Papa Johns assistant manager said in the New York Daily News that she apologized on behalf of her employees, describing them as “not bad people.” She also said that she did not “know why they wrote that but I’m sure they didn’t mean to offend her in any way.” Gothamist quotes a manager named Jerome, who said he thought that Cho had “put it [the receipt] out there just to get some attention—some people like that type of attention”; he noted that employees identify customers and their orders sometimes with phrases like “‘the lady with the blue eyes’ or ‘the guy in the green shirt.’”
The former employee may have been unaware of the racist language she used, but it seems all the more important that someone let her know that she indeed used such language. The store’s owner, Ronald Johnson, has attributed her use of the offensive language to “hip hop culture” and said he plans on holding sensitivity training for employees. While emphasizing in the New York Daily News that he was “very shocked” and “very, very upset about it,” he notes in Gothamist that he initially hesitated to fire the teenager, saying that it may have been more helpful to her in the long run to speak to her about needing “a certain decorum and level of professionalism [at minimum wage jobs].”
As ProPublica spokesman Mike Webb told CNN, Cho herself is ready for the incident to be over and “has nothing more to say.” While much of the attention she has received has been supportive, one person questioned her for being at Papa John’s at all, tweeting “Whoever did this needs to get fired. But the real issues is you are in NYC getting Papa Johns, why?!?” Gothamist says that Papa John’s is trying to get in touch with Cho.
I would think that the now-former employee has learned a lesson that will hopefully lead to greater sensitivity on her part, rather than anger over being terminated from her job. Given that the Papa John’s branch is in an urban location with a very diverse (racially, ethnically) population, shouldn’t the company have thought to provide sensitivity training to employees before such an incident occurred, not to mention the bad feelings (worse than any from eating too much greasy pizza) caused by it?
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