CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Two local Smoothie King franchises have been temporarily closed after employees at both stores in the Charlotte-area were terminated after including racial epithets on customer receipts.
The first incident occurred on Sunday afternoon at the Smoothie King off of Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road near Latta Plantation. A customer took a photograph of a receipt with the n-word written on it after ordering a beverage from the store.
The photo of the receipt was then posted on social media by a family member who tagged Smoothie King. The company initially reported that they were investigating the matter after the customer said her “aunt just wanted a smoothie! This is ridiculous and sick...”
A second incident took place at the Davis Lake Smoothie King location.
Both employees have been terminated according to the company.
“Today, two instances happened in our Charlotte franchise stores that are totally unacceptable and go against every value that we stand for," said Smoothie King CEO Wan Kim in response to a WBTV News inquiry for information about the incidents. “Two of our team members wrote inappropriate, racial remarks about our guests.”
Monday, a third person posted on Facebook, alleging they were also victimized.
“I was just in this Smoothie King with my kids. Instead of asking for my name. Zack H. thought it would be funny to put ‘Jackie Chan’ as my name,” Tony Choi posted. “Being Korean, I find this very insulting. But the 3 employees working there at the time couldn’t stop laughing about it.”
Choi went on to post, “I experience racism here and there and usually doesn’t bother me. Today I left this store furious on the inside, trying to not let my young kids know what just happened.”
Smoothie King responded to several inquiries regarding the post, saying “We have zero tolerance for actions where a guest is disrespected. Both team members were terminated by their respective franchisees and the stores will be closed while further training is completed.”
North Carolina District 38 Senator Mujtaba Mohammed tweeted about the incident later Sunday evening, calling on Smoothie King to offer a ‘resolution’ to the matter as well as a public apology to the customer as well as to the city.
“I am upset,” said Sen. Mohammed in the Twitter post. “I am burdened by the path & process Smoothie King & their staff have chosen to take and at the end of the day, we all want to be treated with respect & dignity.”
Smoothie King later responded to Sen. Mohammed’s tweet, stating that they had terminated the employee responsible for the incident at the Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road location.
Sen. Mohammed told WBTV News he was “relieved that Smoothie King moved quickly to address this unacceptable behavior at both of their locations within Senate District 38.
He touted Senate District 38′s diversity in the statement to WBTV Sunday night and said he believes “with all of my heart that diversity is our strength and should be respected and valued... we are ready to rally behind our small businesses but we need them to do what Smoothie King did this evening, the right thing.”
Smoothie King released to WBTV News regarding the two incidents Sunday night:
“Today, two instances happened in our Charlotte franchise stores that are totally unacceptable and go against every value that we stand for. Two of our team members wrote inappropriate, racial remarks about our guests. We have zero tolerance for any action where a guest is disrespected, and we have taken immediate and decisive action. As of tonight, both team members involved have been terminated. Both stores will be closed until the franchisees and their respective teams complete further training on our standards and to ensure that nothing like this occurs again. Additionally, we are continuing our investigation to insure that any individuals involved in these situations have been terminated. This behavior does not in any way reflect our company’s commitment to creating an open and welcoming environment, and for that we sincerely apologize. Our senior management team is taking additional steps to reinforce and retrain all of our franchisee and store-level employees of our inclusivity policies and best practices.”
Sen. Mohammed will reportedly meet with staff at that location as soon as possible to further discuss the matter.