Papa John’s pizza is doing some serious damage control after one of its employees was caught maligning a customer.
The latest incident, which happened Sunday, involves a customer being disparaged with the N-word in Sanford, Florida.
After delivering pizzas to the customer and his wife Sunday evening, the Papa John’s employee mistakenly “butt-dialed” the patron while talking to a fellow worker.
In the resulting racist voicemail, which lasts about four minutes, he complains about his $5 tip and sings an “N-word”-centric version of the famous “Figaro” aria from the opera “The Barber of Seville.”
(Listen to audio on page two. The rant begins at the 2:43 mark.)
“I guess that’s the only requirement for being a [insert N-word] in Sanford,” he says as his fellow employee laughs. “Yeah, they give me five bucks there – fine outstanding African American gentleman of the community.”
The customer posted a video of the voicemail on YouTube, saying that he and his wife paid “21 percent as usual.” The video ended with the camera panning down to a Papa John’s pizza box with CEO John Schnatter’s face on it. Schnatter issued a public apology on the chain’s Facebook page Monday.
“I am extremely concerned to learn about the reprehensible language used by two former employees in one of our restaurants,” the statement reads. “Their thinking and actions defy both my personal and the company’s values, and everything for which this company stands. The employees responsible for this absolutely unacceptable behavior were immediately terminated.”
“I am very sorry that anyone would be exposed to these hurtful and painful words by any person involved in any way with our company,” he continues. I have personally reached out to our customer to share my own thoughts and offer my deepest apology.”
If Sanford, Florida rings a bell, it’s the same Sanford that has become nationally synonymous with racial tensions over the past year in the wake of George Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager. Zimmerman’s trial for second degree murder is set to begin June 10.
Hiring racist employees seems to be a pattern with Papa John’s. Just last year, in 2012, an employee in New York was fired for using a racial epithet to describe an Asian customer on a receipt.