KETTERING, Ohio (WDTN) – The Dayton man at the center of a fast food controversy is now speaking out, hoping that some good will come from the incident. A man says he was denied service at a Taco Bell drive-thru, but the employee on the other side of the exchange says it’s an unfortunate misunderstanding.
Brandon Burch was the man in the driver’s seat, he says he just wanted his food and the employees wouldn’t serve him. Michael Brown was the man on the other side of the glass. He says he’s out of a job and facing racial slurs – even death threats – for a situation in which he was just trying to do the right thing.
Michael Brown, the former night manager at Taco Bell, says, “I wasn’t just absolutely denying them, because I go through it every day. I get denied service all the time just because of my skin color. So I know how it feels to be discriminated against. I don’t want anyone else to ever feel like that because I know how deeply disturbing it is.”
Brown says there’s another side to the story that has spread like wildfire on social media. “We tried our best to accommodate them, with them being deaf and none of us in there knowing sign language or having prior experience with it.”
Earlier this week Brandon Burch and his girlfriend – both deaf – tried to order at the Taco Bell drive thru by writing out their order on their phone and showing it to employees.
Brandon and his mother Becky are disappointed by what happened. “It broke my heart because to me, he’s a person just like anyone else. He just communicates different.”
Michael says he didn’t get any training on how to serve deaf customers and didn’t want to take the order through the window for safety reasons. “We actually had someone pull a gun on us over nacho cheese so I’m not taking any chances.” He says he tried to invite Brandon inside instead, but they never came in.
“That’s what I usually do when customers have a problem like that. That way I can take the order and make the food and pass it out so I know there’s no mistakes or anything that can go wrong with it.”
Taco Bell’s statement says in part: “All team members at this restaurant are being retrained by the franchise owner on their policies.”
Michael welcomes the training. Becky wants the video to bring awareness to the issue. “It’s upsetting we want people to be educated. They’re just like everybody else.”
Michael is glad they shared the video. “I do appreciate them doing that because it’s going to allow my Taco Bell to improve – or, that Taco Bell to improve – but I wish they would at least put the full video out so the people could see I tried.”
Taco Bell’s statement says Michael no longer works at that location, but Michael says he hasn’t heard anything from his supervisor or the store owner since the incident. He says he’s considering hiring an attorney to try and get his job back.