CAMPBELL, Calif. (KTVU) - A dispute between a deaf customer and a South Bay fast-food restaurant employee has led to claims of discrimination.
ReVae Jensen recorded cell phone video of a confrontation Aug. 31 at a Jack in the Box on Hamilton Avenue in Campbell. She’s heard saying, “I’m deaf,” while signing with her hands. The man in the drive-thru window screams, “It’s okay, go to the speaker now!!”
Jensen says the encounter started innocently, with a visit to the drive-thru. But it turned surreal, then nasty after she by-passed the speaker and tried to order directly from the window.
“Perplexed at first. And then they go ahead and help. But this one just got mad and started waving his arms 'go, go, go.' I was like, 'I’m deaf,'” she said.
Jensen says she’s been deaf since birth, although she did have an implant for a time but it had to be removed. She was able to speak with KTVU after an interpreter signed the questions.
“It’s happened to me a few times, but this is the worst I’ve experienced,” she said.
The confrontation continues for two hours, with both Jensen and the Jack in the Box employee raising their voices at each other. At one point in the video, he seems to mock her sign language gestures. Other customers come and go, but Jensen remains defiant, demanding the same service patrons with hearing receive. She never does get her order, and attorneys specializing in disability cases say Jensen is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“They’re required to provide full and equal access to all disabled people. People that are hearing impaired,” said attorney Irakli Karbelashvili.
He says in this case that could have included a touch screen at the drive-through or allowing someone to order from the window, which is what Jensen wanted in the first place.
Jack in the Box responded to the social media firestorm with a statement that reads in part, “We do not tolerate the mistreatment of any customers and expect employees to follow all training procedures, be respectful, courteous and accommodating to all guests. The employee in the video has been terminated.”
But that’s not the end of this encounter, as Jensen is filing a lawsuit.
“That’s an example of what all of us go through, deaf people go through. Rejection, denial and that’s got to stop,” she said.
She’s hopeful her struggle will mean no one else will be berated for trying to live life like everyone else.