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Applebee’s has fired three employees at a Missouri mall-based restaurant who it determined were involved in the racial profiling of two African-American customers, whom they falsely accused of skipping out without paying their bill.
The restaurant chain also apologized for the Feb. 9 incident at the Independence, Mo., eatery. The apology comes after one of the diners, Alexis Brison, posted a video of her encounter with employees on her cell phone and commented on the incident on Facebook.
The restaurant in the Independence Center mall has been temporarily closed.
The video shows a restaurant staffer, a police officer and a security guard talking to the two women, one of whom is crying uncontrollably. By Tuesday morning, it had an estimated 2.9 million views and had been shared more than 64,000 times.
“We recognize the hurt and pain caused by the recent incident,” the company in a statement. “We very much regret this occurred and sincerely apologize to our guests and community… We do not tolerate racism, bigotry or harassment of any nature.”
The manager, the server and another employee involved were fired and Applebee’s is reaching out to the pair of friends to apologize directly, the company said.
“We know rebuilding trust with those affected by the incident will take time and we look forward to finding resolution in the coming days,” the statement concluded.
According to Brison’s Facebook post, about an hour into their dinner, she and her friend — whom the Kansas City Star has identified as Asia Hardy — were ordered food the day before and leaving without having paid their bill.
In the post, Brison said she had proof of their whereabouts the day before and that her and her friend would never steal. “After being mocked, humiliated, and embarrassed, we were asked to pay for our food, leave, and not come back,” she wrote.
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Brison said that Applebee’s later told them that a staffer had remembered “a skinny girl” and “a girl who wore makeup” had failed to pay their tab.
She expressed shock that accusations would be lodged on such meager descriptions — “our weight and whether or not we wore makeup. She could not recognize any facial features or any defining characteristics.” Brison said she could only conclude that it was a “clear example” of racial profiling.
“Just because we are black does not mean we are all criminals and I will not be treated as such,” her Facebook post reads.
In the video, one of the women is heard repeatedly saying “We have not been here” and “This is what black people have to deal with.”
Applebee’s has close to 2,000 restaurants globally, according to DineEquity, which owns the chain and IHOP.
DineEquity stock was $53.00, down 74 cents or 1.38%, in mid-morning trading Tuesday.
Washington Redskins safety Su’a Cravens claimed in a series of tweets Monday that he was racially profiled during a traffic stop in Northern Virginia nearly three weeks ago and threatened to file a lawsuit. Time
Follow USA TODAY reporter Zlati Meyer on Twitter: @ZlatiMeyer
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