Lifestyle & Human Interest

Deaf Customer Denied Service by Taco Bell, Mother Says Son Was Mocked in Now-Viral Video


If you have a job where you interact with people on a daily basis, you probably get to rub shoulders with folks of all sorts. You’d think that that would help you be more understanding and accepting of differences, but it makes some people more bitter.

Everyone has bad days, too, when tempers flare and patience runs short. It’s unclear what prompted this particular instance of unkindness, but the resulting video has gone viral.

Brandon Burch is 25. He is deaf, but has learned to navigate a world geared toward those who can hear. On New Years Eve, he went to a Taco Bell in Kettering, Ohio, to get something to eat along with his girlfriend, who is also deaf.

This was not the first time he’d gone through a drive-thru, and that specific Taco Bell even had a sign posted on its order screen, inviting deaf customers to drive straight to the first window to place their orders.

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Everything should have been fine. Burch should have been able to show his selection on his phone, as usual, and get his food. But someone at the window balked at his request and snapped at him.

Burch’s girlfriend filmed the exchange, and Burch’s mother posted it to Facebook to raise awareness of his situation and the issues that some people face on a daily basis.

“This is my Deaf son getting discriminated against in the Taco Bell drive thru on Dorothy Ln in Kettering,” she wrote. “He was trying to show them his order and they told him it was against company policy to take his order that way. Really?? Pretty sure the ADA would say otherwise. Uneducated people.”

Not only did the employee not cooperate with Burch’s simple request, but he also threatened to call the cops on him. The video shows him leaning out the window to get more details about the car as he places his call.

After three minutes with no progress, Burch decided to leave.

“It broke my heart because to me he’s a person just like anyone else. He just communicates differently,” she told FOX 19. “It’s upsetting. We want people to be educated. They’re just like everybody else.”

Brandon’s mother interpreted for him so he could explain his position to WSMH. “It was like they were mocking me, making fun of me,” he said. “And there was even a gentleman in the back giving peace signs.”

“It’s a start but it’s just going to keep happening again according to Brandon, it’s just way bigger than that. We just need to make sure everyone is educated.”

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Taco Bell has since dealt with the situation and has made its stance clear in a recent statement.

“Taco Bell has a fundamental policy to respect all of our customers and employees, and we are committed to maintaining an environment free of discrimination or harassment. The franchise owner and operator of this location has investigated this situation and the team member no longer works for their organization.”

“All team members at this restaurant are being retrained by the franchise owner on their policies.”

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