It was reported in Metro Weekly earlier today that a gay couple were victims of the repeated use of an anti-gay slur by a Safeway employee while at the checkout counter at the Waterfront Station Safeway last Saturday. From the article:
''We put our groceries up on the conveyor belt, some frozen dinner and wine, and [the cashier] said, 'Oh God, they're faggots,''' says Morgan. ''And then Brendan said, 'I'm sorry I didn't hear what you said.' And she said 'You guys are fucking faggots.'''
When the couple asked the cashier for her name, they were told it was ''D'Angela.'' Morgan adds that she did not show any remorse for her comments.
''We just couldn't believe it,'' he says. ''She didn't seem apologetic or anything. We asked her for the store manager and she just ignored us. So we ended up leaving our groceries where they were and we walked [away].''
The couple has filed a complaint with the D.C. Office of Human Rights. After the story was posted, the reaction on Twitter was universal - the conduct of the employee was unacceptable and an explanation was needed by Safeway. Others have gone further and suggested there should be a protest of the store. A protest of the most profitable Safeway in the city could send the message that this kind of unprofessional behavior can not be tolerated. As of today, the Safeway employee still works at the store, evidenced by a follow-up to the Metro Weekly story where another Southwest resident went to the store today and videotaped an apology from the employee. Below is the video that was posted on YouTube.
Update: An official reponse from Safeway regarding the incident was posted on Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells' blog:
This morning, we heard from Mr. Craig Muckle, Manager, Public Affairs and Government Relations Eastern Division Safeway Inc., issuing the following statement on behalf of Safeway
"We extend our sincerest apologies to Mr. Morgan and Mr. Harrington for the completely unacceptable comments by our employee. Safeway employs and serves people from all backgrounds, and absolutely does not condone discrimination or intolerance of any kind by any staff member. The company is reviewing the matter and will take appropriate corrective action."
Update #2: CM Wells' blog brings news that the Safeway employee has been terminated and another apology has been given, this time by Eastern Division President Steven Neibergall:
We were shocked and appalled to learn of the statements made to two of our valued customers by one of our employees. This incident is personally offensive to me and to the rest of the men and women who proudly represent us in our stores. This goes against everything we believe and practice in terms of serving and welcoming our customers, and in being a part of the diverse communities we are privileged to serve. We are at a loss to explain how one of our employees, even one who has been on the job for less than a month, could consider this kind of behavior to be acceptable. The employee has been terminated.
Besides investigating the incident itself, we also are looking into the unsatisfactory response our customers received when they attempted to bring this to the attention of local store management. The complaint should have been dealt with immediately and we apologize that this was not the case.
We have reached out to the customers involved to extend our sincere apology. We are truly sorry this happened in our store and are taking decisive and urgent action to ensure it does not happen again to any customer in any of the communities we serve. No one should face what these customers faced, and we are humbly sorry it happened to them in our store.