McDonald's, the world's largest fast food chain, found itself in hot water this week after an employee in Taiwan mistook a female customer with Down syndrome for a homeless person. The employee then called the police and asked the woman to leave, according to the Focus Taiwan News Channel.
Susan Lu, Operation Vice President for McDonald's Taiwan, reportedly issued an apology at a news conference in Kaohsiung on behalf of the company Wednesday.
"Our staff's treatment of Wang was really inappropriate and we apologize to her for causing her discomfort when she was intending to dine at our store," Lu said. "We are sorry about our failure to meet the expectations of the public."
When contacted for comment by The Huffington Post, Steve Mazeika, the McDonald’s Corporation supervisor of global external communications, reiterated Lu's sentiments.
“We would like to assure you that at McDonald’s, we value and respect all our customers and employees, and we believe every individual deserves great service in our restaurants,” Mazeika wrote in an email. “We have sincerely apologized to the customer and her family for the unfortunate experience, and at the same time, our colleagues in Taiwan are thoroughly investigating the matter."
This is the second time in the last two months that McDonald's has garnered criticism for offending customers with disabilities. In April, McDonald’s apologized for a Big Mac advertisement that some say mocked mental illness. The company, for its part, says the ad had not been approved.
Pizza Hut separately found itself in trouble earlier this month for a commercial that some say poked fun at people with visual impairments.
McDonald’s Taiwan Apology After Calling Cops To Deny Down Syndrome Customer
In the June 22 incident, a woman with Down syndrome named Wang tried to place her order at an outlet in Kaohsiung. The manager instead called the police to have her removed. According to a report in Focus Taiwan, he accused her of being a homeless person who was shouting and disturbing the other patrons.
However, many members of disabled groups believe that he was actually practicing discrimination against the woman.
In the days since the incident, several protests were held outside McDonald’s headquarters in Taipei, Taiwan.
“I think it’s very improper that the restaurant contacted the police to handle the matter in this isolated case…I apologize that this caused an unpleasant dining experience for Ms Wang.”
Representatives from disability groups have called for the McDonald’s restaurant to release the surveillance video, which they believe will prove that the manager was simply discriminating against Wang.
However, McDonald’s Taiwan has refused to do that.
Lin Cheng-hsia, president of the Republic of China Down Syndrome Foundation, said that they will now stop the protests and accept the apology:
“We chose to let the matter drop to reduce the social disharmony, even though the truth remains unknown as McDonald’s has not released the surveillance camera video.”
They’re apparently ready to move on in the wake of the McDonald’s Taiwan apology.