Apparently, somewhere in Florida an Arby’s employee refused to serve a police officer. The police officer complained and talked to a manager. The manager laughed and said the employee doesn’t like serving cops. One or both of the the employees seems to have been reprimanded although exactly what the upshot was isn’t entirely clear to me. The company apologized, saying that Arby’s values our men and women in blue, etc., etc.

The officer filed an “offense report” over the incident, not linked to above. Here’s her narrative of what happened. I’ve retyped it, so assume all typos are my own. I’ve also redacted some information:

On this date, I responded to the above location [redacted], Arby’s, to order take-out food through the drive thru window. Upon ordering at the microphone, the clerk seemed slightly rude and short with his responses, but I was having difficulty hearing him so figured there might be a problem with their speaker system. Once I received my total, I drove to the take-out window to pay for my food.

When I drove around, the clerk, [redacted], took my credit card as a form of payment. At this time the manager, [redacted], approached the window an stated, “He doesn’t want to serve you because you are a police officer.” [Redacted] was referring to [redacted] and referenced him by looking at [redacted]. At this time, [redacted] had not processed my credit card and had to be ordered to do so, by [redacted]. I explained to [redacted] that this made me extremely uncomfortable and now wasn’t certain I wanted to dine at the restaurant. [Redacted] assured me everything was ok and handed me my food. [Redacted] even laughed and said he is allowed to refuse to serve me.

I was uncertain of the condition of my food, and felt for my safety, it would be best not to eat there. I responded inside and [redacted] provided me with a refund. [Redacted] provided me with his contact information and store information but [redacted] refused to have contact with me, ignored me and refused to provide his contact information to me.

This incident is being documented for informational purposes.

Somehow, the officer seems to have gotten information about the employee “who refused to have contact with” her, too, because on the “offense report” we see the following info about both employees: birth dates, driver license numbers, domicile address, and place of birth, which in the case of the non-cooperative employee was the Dominican Republic. I don’t know how this information was acquired. Maybe Arby’s disclosed the information from its personnel records (That’s why I’m not linking to the document itself. Too much personal information.)

The employees as far as I can see didn’t commit an “offense” recognized by law. (And one thing we don’t get from this “offense report” is that the officer was refunded her money. At least that’s what the linked-to news account above says.) I think I can also easily imagine a scenario in which the manager, as the father said in the linked to article above, was just joking. I can easily imagine why the one employee might not have wanted to disclose their personal information.

Now perhaps I’m making too much of the fact that this report is called an “offense report.” Those are the words at the top of the form, but the officer does write that the report is for “informational purposes” only. It’s probably the standard form an officer fills out when something happens regardless of whether a crime is even alleged to have been committed. The employees weren’t arrested and as far as I know and hope, they weren’t tailed or followed by the police trying to pin something on them or harass them. And I guess it’s encouraging that the officer just wrote a report and didn’t, say, kill the employees. I’d rather see more report writing and fewer incidents of brutality.

And I do believe all people should be treated with respect. If it’s true that the employees weren’t joking and were really trying to stick it to the customer, then they shouldn’t have done that. And as a pragmatic consideration, you probably want the cops on your side.

Still, the fact that the officer might have responded much more aggressively and chose not to and the fact (if it is a fact) that the employees were rude, don’t put me completely at ease.  Police officers are supposed to “serve and protect” the public. If a member of the public decides they don’t wish to serve officers, that person should have that right, and, I’d add, expect the full protection of the police should, say, a robbery take place.

Category: Courthouse, Market

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9 Responses to This doesn’t seem right

  1. greginak says:

    I’m really not sure why an employee of an establishment can just refuse to serve people in any certain profession ( or gender, preference, ethnicity, etc). That person is only an employee so they need to follow company policy and i doubt if any policy says “no serving cops.”

    Then of course there is the “dumb” thing. Why do you tell a cop you won’t serve them because they are cop. Are you asking for trouble? Do you want all the cops in town to put their gaze on you?

    • Chris says:

      Perhaps cops are against her religion.

    • Well, I think there are a few things going on. First, from the employer’s perspective, I agree. The employee has no business telling a cop they won’t serve them. And that is an issue for the employer.

      Second, though, I do tend to believe that businesses should retain the prerogative not to do business with whom they will. Of course, back to my first point (and to your point), the employee is not “the business.”

      Third, I do, however, concede the state has the authority to prohibit discrimination on certain bases, such as race, ethnicity, gender, etc. I don’t think cop status qualifies. Or at least to my knowledge, there aren’t such laws on the books. Or maybe there are, but that’s not something I know of.

      Fourth, and this pretty much contradicts my second point and perhaps my argument from the OP, I do like the argument from this article at Bleeding Heart Libertarians during the recent Indiana pizza fracas. The relevant part of the argument:

      a clear, venerable, and useful common law doctrine is the “implied contract” associated with being open for business. This is is in the realm not of private individual, but of a commercial enterprise. I advertise prices and goods/services, and when someone makes a valid offer I have substantial–not absolute, but substantial–obligations to honor the offer implied by my being “open for business.” For me not to act on the advertised terms is a kind of “bait and switch,” bordering on fraud. So, for example, if I open a pizza restaurant with prices, sizes, and toppings I am obliged to provide such pizza and such toppings at such prices. If I present a bill where all my prices are arbitrarily doubled, that would violate the contract implied by my posted prices. There are limits on this: I may run out of toppings, or one topping, I may find that my oven breaks and I can’t cook pizza that night, etc. Further, I might have the right, under some circumstances, to refuse service to someone who is very drunk, very noisy, or might otherwise prevent other customers from enjoying their pizza.

      At the time, I remember thinking, “hey, that sounds like a good thing.” And if I want to be consistent, I’ll have to backtrack my argument from the OP. I’m not quite ready to do that yet. And I still think something’s not right in what the police officer did. But I haven’t yet resolved the contradiction between my liking of the implied contract idea and my consternation at what the cop did.

      • greginak says:

        I do agree businesses should have some ability to pick and choose who to serve with some protected classes. I’m not sure cops should be a profession it is wise to refuse service or whether that is right. I’m more than happy to give cops a massive ton of crap for the wrongs many of them do. But they also provide an important and occasionally dangerous public service.

        I’m sure when the cop got back to the station she told the other cops about the story and they compared Arby’s experiences. I would be surprised if the other cops were fine with that and supported or even encouraged her to make some report so the bosses could do something about it.

  2. Mike Hunt Ray Rice says:

    Sow: I … felt for my safety

    If the sow truly felt for her safety, then she shouldn’t be a police officer. I would doubt that a man would file a similar report.

    I also found it humorous that she used the word “responded” to mean “go to a location”.

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