Watch: Arby's Employee Fired After Gay Couple Finds Slur on Their Receipt

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday June 14, 2021

Longtime gay couple Craig Gray and John Burns.
Longtime gay couple Craig Gray and John Burns.  (Source:Screencap/WTHR)

Longtime gay couple Craig Gray and John Burns were shocked to find an anti-LGTBQ slur written on their order receipt following a visit to an Arby's restaurant in Indiana. The employee who rang up their order was promptly fired, the Daily Mail reported.

The couple, who have been together for 17 years, told local news channel WTHR that anti-LGBTQ discrimination "sometimes just smacks you right in the face."

Initially, their visit to an Arby's in Lafayette, Indiana, didn't seem like it would be one of those occasions. The couple had gone inside the eatery after seeing a long line for the drive-through window, NBC News reported. At first, nothing seemed amiss.

"The cashier that helped us, the young man that's been mentioned, seemed really new and a little awkward, but very nice," Burns told NBC News, calling the interaction "a very run of the mill type of fast-food occurrence. Nothing that you would expect out of the ordinary."

"But as the couple waited for their order to be prepared, Burns' partner noticed that on their receipt, there was a homophobic slur in place of his name," per the report.

Burns described his reaction as one of "shock, just absolute shock," adding, "This has never happened to me in all my years. I'm from this area, and I've lived here my whole life."

Gray took to Facebook to post a photo of the receipt.

"So this just happened at Arby's!" Gray posted. "Happy Pride, huh?"

(Source: Craig Gray/Facebook)

Burns, meanwhile, demanded an explanation from the employee.

"I said, 'Look at this. What is this? Why would you do this?'" Burns recalled. "And that's when he tried to give me some lame excuse about a computer glitch, where he said, 'Sometimes I'll put in a name and it will come out different on the receipt.'"

When the couple demanded to see a manager, the company's response was swift: A full refund for the couple's meal and termination for the employee in question.

"By the time I sat down on my seat to meet up with Craig and our food, I saw him walking down the street in the parking lot," Burns told NBC News.

The brand told NBC that Arby's "has zero tolerance for discriminatory speech of any kind" and claimed that "both the franchisee and us at Arby's corporate have both reached out to the guests to no avail."

The couple had a different perspective, with Burns telling NBC, "When he's tried contacting them back, he hasn't got any response."

Burns told WTHR that the timing of the slur — during Pride Month — was particularly troubling. "There are people out there who need help because this is a big issue," he said. "This doesn't affect me the way it would affect some people. So you're kind of obligated to speak up for those who can't speak up."

To watch the WTHR news clip, follow this link.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.