Pizza chain Papa John's fired one of its New York City employees after he or she described a customer using an ethnic slur on her receipt.
The customer, Minhee Cho, a communications manager at nonprofit investigative journalism organization ProPublica, posted the image of her receipt on Twitter on Friday. By Sunday, the photo was viewed almost 200,000 times.
Papa John's issued an apology for the incident on its Facebook page on Saturday. “We were extremely concerned to learn of the receipt issue in New York. This act goes against our company values, and we've confirmed with the franchisee that this matter was addressed immediately and that the employee is being terminated. We are truly sorry for this customer's experience,” it said.
As of Monday, the apology has received nearly 1,000 likes and more than 800 comments on Facebook.
Another pizza restaurant had an issue with employees in 2009 that caused a major PR stir. Two Domino's Pizza employees filmed a “prank” video of them preparing food for customers in unsanitary ways, such as sticking cheese up their noses, and then posted the film online. The two workers were fired from the company and charges were filed against them.
While both these pizza restaurant situations are distasteful and offensive, closely regulating every employee at a national business seems like a nearly impossible task, especially with social media and mobile technology making it easy for anybody to say anything at anytime. Companies could make education or sensitivity courses part of their employee-training programs, but there will still be a risk of someone saying or doing something they shouldn't.
Maybe the best option is for brands to be prepared in case something goes wrong, because having a thorough crisis communications strategy in place could never hurt.