Metro Weekly

KFC fires worker after homophobic rant at gay couple

Employee called Joshua Garner and Lee Walls "f**king qu**rs" after they allegedly held up the drive thru queue

KFC gay couple
Joshua Garner (left) and Lee Walls (Photo: WAND-TV); KFC employee Payton Burke (Photo: Garner)

Fast food chain KFC has fired an employee after he was filmed calling a gay couple homophobic slurs.

The couple, Joshua Garner and Lee Walls, were at a restaurant in Springfield, Illinois, on Feb. 24 to collect an order for a DoorDash customer.

According to local ABC affiliate WICS, the attack began after Walls, who was driving, tried to contact the DoorDash customer to inform them that an item on their order was missing.

While in the drive thru queue, an employee asked, “Is there a problem?” and Walls allegedly motioned that he needed a moment to speak to the customer to change their order.

After Walls gestured, the employee reportedly responded, “Hold on I know this mother****er did not just put his hand up at me.”

According to WICS, Garner then started recording the interaction, which he later posted to Facebook.

“They just started to get very angry, very quickly,” Walls told WICS. “It seemed like everyone was taking turns to come to the window and yell at us.”

In the video, which shows both a male and female employee at the drive thru window speaking to the couples, a female employee tells the men to leave the drive thru queue so that other customers can be served.

This leads to a back and forth between the couple and the employees, with Garner noting that the couple are “doing our job” by trying to collect the DoorDash order. [Warning: Strong language follows.]

After some more back and forth, the male employee swears at the couple, and Garner informs him that he’s being recorded. The female employee leaves and the male employee, identified as Payton Burke, responds, “I don’t give a fuck about no video.”

He then calls the men, “fucking queer” twice and calls Garner’s younger brother, who was in the back of the car, a “little faggot.”

“You can’t do that,” Garner says.

“I don’t give a fuck,” Burke responds. “I don’t give a fuck if y’all are gay or not. This motherfucker look queer, so he can get the fuck out of here.”

After being told again that the incident was being recorded, Burke says, “Fuck the video fag,” while another employee closes the drive thru window.

“I have done two tours in Afghanistan and I have seen some crazy things, but never have I had it where I freeze up, and I just freeze up,” Walls told NBC affiliate WAND-TV.

“It was like a shot to the heart, like a bullet to the heart,” Garner added. “It was like we couldn’t say anything and the only person who could stick up and protect us was my little brother in the back seat.”

In a statement, KFC said its “unwavering policy is to treat every guest and employee fairly, equally, and with respect.”

“Discrimination of any kind is absolutely against KFC’s core values, and the behavior displayed in this video was appalling,” the company said. “This employee was promptly terminated by the KFC franchisee who owns the restaurant, and additional employees have been suspended as a result of this incident, pending further investigation.”

KFC continued: “We have also contacted the guest directly to apologize for this experience. Additionally, this KFC franchisee has committed to additional anti-harassment and non-discrimination training for all employees at its restaurants.”

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's online editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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