PLUM (KDKA) — A Plum woman is using social media to voice her outrage about a local Chili’s restaurant after her boyfriend was fired.
Crista Miller says her boyfriend, Bruce Casper, was fired from his job at the Chili’s in the Pittsburgh Mills Mall this past weekend after complaining to management about employees using offensive language.
Miller and Casper are getting married later this month. They have three children together. Their youngest, a 16-month-old toddler named Kyron, has Down syndrome.
Miller says on her Facebook page that her boyfriend was allegedly called a “retard” by two female employees.
She says when he made it clear that his son has Down syndrome, and he wouldn’t tolerate the word, the manager said, “You can leave then,” and he did.
Casper has been advised by a lawyer not to talk about the firing.
“One of the managers has used the word retarded just in conversation, which is completely inappropriate,” Miller said. “Not only for Kyron, but for all kids with special needs, whether it’s Down syndrome or something else. There’s a right and there’s a wrong, and this is wrong.”
A spokeswoman for Chili’s Restaurants said, in part, in a prepared statement: “This is certainly not the behavior we condone in our restaurants, and we take allegations like this very seriously and we are investigating.”
Miller said the word “retard” is derogatory, and it’s “simply not acceptable.”
Casper has been offered another job at a different Chili’s but says he doesn’t feel comfortable working for the company.
UPDATE (June 2, 2015) —
Nancy Murray, the president of Arc of Greater Pittsburgh and a member Achieva, says a campaign started in 2007 aims to end the use of those words.
“The ‘r-word’ campaign started a few years ago by the Special Olympics. It’s an international campaign to rid the vocabulary of the word. Mental retardation is now called intellectually disabled,” said Murray.
Murray told KDKA’s Brenda Waters she knows firsthand how that single word can hurt.
“I, myself, have children with Down Syndrome, so I can put myself in that place and it just hurts,” said Murray. “It hurts right down to the core when you hear someone use those words.”