After a restaurant cashier refused to serve a police officer in uniform, the manager defender her employee, arguing that they didn’t have to assist anyone they don’t like. However, after corporate heard the manager justifying the employee’s actions, they decided that she can share in her colleague’s punishment.
When Sergeant Kenneth Horton stopped by Cook Out, a North Carolina BBQ restaurant, two days before Christmas, the uniformed officer stepped up to the counter to place an order for a midnight snack. Suddenly, the cashier took one look at the officer and headed to the back of the restaurant, prompting another employee to greet Horton.
Perplexed, Horton asked what had happened to the other cashier, to which the second employee replied that they didn’t want to serve a police officer. Feeling insulted, Sgt. Horton chose to walk out of the establishment without placing an order.
Although the officer apparently never spoke about the incident, word quickly spread on the internet of the cashier’s refusal to serve Sgt. Horton, sparking a swift investigation from Cook Out’s corporate office. Within days, the cashier was fired for discriminating against a customer based on their choice of profession. Of course, corporate wasn’t finished cleaning house.
Manager Taren Woods defended her co-worker’s actions when her employer questioned why she didn’t intervene after discovering that the cashier refused service to the officer. She argued that an employee shouldn’t be required to serve an officer, adding that she wouldn’t enforce such a rule.
“If [employees] don’t feel comfortable taking somebody else order, then, you know, it’s not wrong for them to have somebody else to take their order or contact the manager,” Woods told WTVD.
After hearing Woods’ excuse, the district manager informed her that, if she feels the same as her employee, she can share in their fate. That day, Woods was fired from her job.
“[The district manager] told me that I should’ve went outside and got the officer’s attention and, I guess, offer to take his order,” she explained. “I’m mad, I’m pissed. I was hurt.”
When asked if she wants her job back, Woods replied, “Honestly, now, no. I just know that I need to find something else quick. I got bills and I got kids.”
Sgt. Horton had no idea that his negative experience with the restaurant employee had been exposed. When he and his department caught wind of the outcome, they wanted to clarify that they had nothing to do with Woods’ firing or that of the cashier.
“We did not contact corporate directly asking them to fire this employee,” Roxboro Police Chief David Hess told the news outlet. “Cook Out took it upon themselves to take action.”
Woods has since given several media interviews and now says that she didn’t initially know that the officer was turned away because she was working in the back of the restaurant. She added that she wishes the employee would’ve come to her immediately so that she could remedy the situation. Still, she blames the district manager for not being understanding of her position, according to WNCN.
“He told me he had to let me go because I didn’t take control of the situation, saying how I should have gone outside to take the cop’s order,” Woods said. “Mind you it was midnight and policy states that we’re not allowed outside the building after 9:45. So why would I go outside to chase down a cop.”
Woods claims that her defense of the cashier has nothing to do with the profession of the officer. In fact, she says that she had no problem taking Sgt. Horton’s order if only she had known that the employee refused.
“It is frustrating because it’s a lie. And they got all this stuff stirred up. And I lost my job and I got four kids… So yeah, that’s not fair at all,” she said.
Woods has four children and had worked at Cook Out for 10 years before she was let go. Although some have come to her defense, the former manager insisted that she doesn’t want to be rehired at the restaurant.
The police department expressed their dismay that Sgt. Horton was refused service, adding that the outcome “easily could have been avoided.” However, the department expressed appreciation that the establishment is sticking to its “core values.”