Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with a statement from Panda Express clarifying that Carlos is not the employee in question.
A Panda Express employee in Texas was put on leave after a customer complained that he used a fake Chinese accent while taking an order.
The incident happened on Monday when Facebook user Tony Bouttilath ordered food at a Panda Express drive-thru in Grand Prairie, according to Grand Prairie News.
“I usually don’t post but I thought I’d shed light on an incident that occurred yesterday evening at the drive-thru of Panda Express, where an employee thought it was funny to take my order in a Chinese accent,” he said.
“As I pulled up to the window, I noticed 3 other employees wearing headsets overheard the order being taken,” the Facebook user continued. “Each one of them thought it was hilarious. I immediately asked to speak with the manager on duty and she refused to identify the guy who took my order and said he was suddenly in the restroom.”
The identity of the employee, Carlos, was only given to Bouttilath 15 minutes later. He claims the employee was not of Asian descent.
Carlos did apologize while allegedly squinting his eyes and speaking in another fake Chinese accent.
“Once I called him out on his childish behavior, his eyes started to change and accent disappeared,” he said. “The assistant manager attempted to diffuse the situation but continued to defend his actions by saying ‘he does this all the time.’”
“She offered to comp my meal to make the ‘situation right’ but I refused because it doesn’t solve the real issue at hand,” he added.
In a statement forwarded to Grand Prairie News, Panda Express said they had taken immediate action on the case and allegedly reached out to Bouttilath about the incident.
However, Bouttilath said in a follow-up post that he has yet to receive any word from the company.
“It is of the utmost importance to us that each of our guests are treated with respect and dignity, and we have a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination,” Panda Express continued in its statement.
“As a family-owned Asian American company, creating an environment of inclusivity as well as diversity and cultural awareness is deeply rooted in our values, with a requirement for all store managers to complete diversity and inclusion training and role model this with their associates. Furthermore, we’ve placed the associate involved on leave and, at this time, are retraining our staff while our teams work to ensure appropriate action is taken.”
“There has been a misunderstanding and Carlos is not the associate in question,” Panda Express said in a statement to NextShark. “After further investigating the incident, the associate is no longer with us. We take this matter seriously and apologized to the guest in-store immediately after the incident occurred. And our Guest Cares department is connecting with the guest to update him on the situation and share our sincere apologies. The entire team has been retrained to ensure our restaurants live up to the welcoming environment and highest standards service that Panda is known for. We will continue to serve all guests with mutual respect at every store.”