An Asian-American student was outraged after a Taco Bell cashier allegedly dubbed him "Steve Chink" on his till receipt and used the slur in conversation with other employees.
In Young Lee, a first year PhD student at Penn Medicine in Pennsylvania, often gives a western first name, on this occasion Steve, to save both himself and the employee the inconvenience of having to spell out his real name. But when he went to Taco Bell for a late night snack on Friday (16 February), he noticed the cashier had made an unexpected racist addition, meaning his name was written on the receipt as "Steve Chink".
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines "chink" as being "used as an insulting and contemptuous term for a person of Chinese birth or descent".
Lee claims that when he confronted the cashier about the receipt, he was told it was done because there were three Steves in the restaurant at the time and some differentiation was needed.
Writing on Facebook, Lee said: "It made me even more upset that he was protecting his case rather than apologizing so I lashed out and told him that it is extremely disrespectful to use such a derogatory slur. He eventually apologized, and although I was still very upset I decided to let the case go."
However, Lee claimed that he then heard the employee making jokes with his co-workers in the kitchen about the situation, using the world "chink" again. Lee said: "Where is your remorse?"
At this point, Lee admits he became so angry he began shouting and swearing, and the manager tried to tell him to calm down, saying he had been disrespectful by snatching his food from the cashier.
Lee wrote: "It was as if he was trying to defuse the situation by redirecting the blame on to me. But how does he expect me to be polite to the cashier when he deliberately took his time to spell out the word "CHINK" to describe me? When he attempted to condemn me, people in the restaurant started to berate both the manger and the cashier, which led him to apologize and finally admit that they were in the wrong.
"I thought incidents like this only happen in the news and never expected it to happen to me but I guess it really does happen in the real world."
Lee concluded his post by using the hashtags #putanendtoracism and #iamnotachink, after saying he thought it was important to raise awareness of the incident due to the "current political climate".
A Taco Bell spokesperson told IBTimes UK: "We do not tolerate this behaviour. The franchisee is looking into this matter and will take swift and appropriate action."
Many social media users have already been sharing Lee's post and tagging Taco Bell, asking for an official response.
One Facebook user wrote: "Hey Taco Bell - check this out and do something about it. yes, hiring good employees is hard. yes, it's impossible to control everything that happens in your stores. yes, no amount of diversity training and education will fix this problem immediately. and YES, you can still do something productive here to rectify the ignorance of your employees. better work fast. the ball is in your court."