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Papa John's Racist Voicemail Spurs CEO Apology

By Aditi Mukherji, JD | Last updated on

A Papa John’s racist voicemail has moved the company’s CEO to issue a public apology. A delivery man, who accidentally “butt-dialed” a Sanford, Florida couple, left a message full of racial slurs as he complained about his tip — even though the couple tipped 21 percent, reports ABC News. A fellow delivery man can be heard laughing as the Papa John’s employee turns his complaint about the $5 tip into a racist ditty, including the N-word and other racial expletives, about the customer.

The understandably angry customer posted the audio of the message which has gone viral.

Drawing praise for taking responsibility, Papa John's Chairman and CEO John Schnatter terminated the racist employees and posted an apology on Papa John's Facebook page:

"Friends, I am extremely concerned to learn about the reprehensible language used by two former employees in one of our restaurants," the Facebook post stated. "Their thinking and actions defy both my personal and the company's values, and everything for which this company stands."

"My heartfelt apology goes out to the customer involved, his family and our community at large. I am very sorry that anyone would be exposed to these hurtful and painful words by any person involved in any way with our company," Schnatter said.

When Sorry Isn't Good Enough

Papa John's is no stranger to thorny situations involving racial slurs, which begs the question: What should you do about racist employees in a large company?

An apology is key, but sometimes "sorry" just doesn't cut it. Many people follow the adage that actions speak louder than words. If an employee makes a racist slur and you merely discipline him or her, you might find yourself getting sued by an unappeased customer. Instead, you may want to go down the Papa John's route and terminate the offensive employees. It sends a strong message to the other employees that such behavior is absolutely unacceptable.

Though you can't feasibly supervise employees at all times, it's still important for employers to try to prevent discrimination by providing training and written policies. After all, your employee's actions can end up costing you if a racial discrimination lawsuit is filed.

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