Roxboro, NC – Two Cook Out restaurant employees have been fired after one of them refused to serve a veteran Roxboro police officer last week.
The incident occurred on Nov. 7, when on-duty Roxboro Police Sergeant Kenneth Horton stopped by the Roxboro Cook Out at approximately 12:30 a.m., WTVD reported.
The uniformed officer, who is also a U.S. Army veteran, went inside the fast food joint to place his order, but the cashier behind the counter refused to serve him.
The now-former Cook Out manager said she was working at the back of the restaurant that night, and confirmed that the incident occurred, WNCN reported.
"If a cashier doesn't feel comfortable taking someone's order, it's not wrong for them to have someone else do it or contact the manager,” the ex-manager explained, according to WTVD. “I just wish they would have asked me to come up front to take their order.”
The ex-manager said that the cashier asked another employee to take Sgt. Horton’s order instead.
But when the second employee stepped in, the officer asked what happened to the initial cashier.
A short while later, Sgt. Horton walked away.
Word of the incident soon spread on social media, and eventually made their way to Cook Out’s corporate office, WTVD reported.
"We did not contact corporate directly asking them to fire this employee," Roxboro Police Chief David Hess told the news outlet. "Cook Out took it upon themselves to take action."
The ex-manager said she didn’t initially know about the way the officer was treated because she was working in the rear portion of the restaurant at the time, WNCN reported.
“I didn’t know nothing — that it was that serious until the next day I heard the cashier got fired because she didn’t take the cop’s order,” the now-fired manager said said.
The district manager also fired the manager, who had been with the company for 10 years.
“He told me he had to let me go because I didn’t take control of the situation, saying how I should have gone outside to take the cop’s order,” the now-former manager told WNCN. “Mind you, it was midnight and policy states that we’re not allowed outside the building after 9:45. So, why would I go outside to chase down a cop?”
She said that it was unfair that she lost her job over the incident.
“It is frustrating because it’s a lie. And they got all this stuff stirred up. And I lost my job and I got four kids and it’s Christmas time,” she told WNCN. “So yeah, that’s not fair at all.”
She said she does not want the company to rehire her, WSOC reported.
“I’m mad. I’m pissed. I was hurt,” she said. “I just gotta find something else.”
Chief Hess said that the entire incident should never have happened and could have been avoided, WTVD reported.
"We're saddened that an employee denied service to a police officer,” the chief said. “We promote unity…Unfortunately, it's all because of a small action that could have been avoided."
He reiterated that the Roxboro Police Department had nothing to do with the corporate office’s decision to fire the two employees.
“We…appreciate Cook Out’s commitment to their core values,” Chief Hess told WRAL.