Latest example involves three UC Irvine students of Asian heritage. They ordered their meal from an employee who instead of typing in their names for a pickup, typed in "Ching" and "Chong." A spokesman for the chain tells Grub Street that the employee has been fired. Here's the statement:
Please understand and accept our confirmation that the inappropriate, and unthinking behavior of a young team member at one of our restaurants does not support any claim or even suggestion of racism at our restaurant. The individual clearly violated our operating standards; the matter was addressed and discussed immediately with the guests on the spot; and a confirmation was provided that the employee was immediately dismissed for the individual behavior.
Trouble is, the Georgia-based chain has a long history of intolerance. A Muslim employee sued the company after being fired for what he said was his refusal to take part in employee prayers. The company has also filed a brief in support of Proposition 8, California's anti-gay initiative. And potential operators are required to discuss their marital status and civic and church involvement. While it's hard to imagine that the company had any direct role in the OC incident, it's easy to imagine how the deeply conservative corporate culture can create problems. From the NYT:
S. Truett Cathy, the founder, is an 89-year-old, Harley-riding Southern Baptist who opened a small diner near the Atlanta airport 1946. He closed the business on Sundays because he was a churchgoer who wanted a day to rest and be with his family. Because the company remains privately held -- his two sons run it -- it can easily keep its faith-based principles intact. The company's corporate purpose is, in part, "to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us." With its near-national reach and its transparent conservative Christian underpinnings, Chick-fil-A is a trailblazer of sorts, said Lake Lambert, the author of "Spirituality, Inc." and dean of the college of liberal arts at Mercer University, where he teaches Christianity. "They're going in a direction we haven't seen in faith-based businesses before, and that is to a much broader marketing of themselves and their products," he said. "This is possibly the next phase of evangelical Christianity's muscle flexing."