Burger King Worker Accused of Hurling Homophobic Slurs to Same-Sex Couple

A same-sex couple say they were chased away from a Burger King in California by employees, including one who allegedly hurled homophobic slurs at them.

Leo Mendez told Newsweek that he and his husband, Romiro Mendez, were on their way home when they decided to ordered food using the Burger King app.

But when they went to collect their order from a restaurant in Salida on July 24, they were told the restaurant was closed.

"Our two-year-old son was hungry, so I decided to place an order using my Burger King app so we wouldn't have to wait for the food and because it's right off the freeway," Leo Mendez said. "When we got to Burger King restaurant, the manager refused to give us our food saying the restaurant was closed even though they were still open."

He said the employee started hurling homophobic slurs and threatened to get a weapon.

"He was calling us f*****s, laughing at us, flipping us off and said he was going to go get the strap (his gun) from the back," he added.

"My husband and I were so scared for our lives we left without caring about a refund, food or anything we just wanted to go home and be safe."

Leo Mendez said as he and his family started driving away, the employee came out of the building and started screaming at them.

The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Office told KGTV that Burger King employees co-operated with detectives, and said they felt the Mendezes were the aggressors in the situation.

Detectives collected video footage captured by the couple and the restaurant, and found there was enough evidence to forward the case to the Stanislaus County District Attorney's Office to investigate the incident as a potential misdemeanor hate crime.

The couple, who have been married for seven years, hope prosecutors take their complaint seriously.

"We shouldn't wait for something to happen. We should pursue it when we can actually make an action, not wait until someone has been shot, someone has been killed," Romiro Mendez told the station.

The couple also said they do not intend to visit a Burger King restaurant again as they feel their complaints have not been heard by the company. No-one from Burger King has returned their calls, they said, and they are still awaiting their refund.

"I did contact Burger King but they have not reached out to me," Leo Mendez said.

The company donated to the Human Rights Campaign during Pride Month, but Leo Mendez said the company needed to do more to support the LGBTQ+ community. "They donate, get a tax write off but then are you actually taking action?" he asked.

Newsweek has contacted Burger King's corporate office and the the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Office. The district attorney's office could not immediately be reached for comment.

Update 8/3/21, 11:42 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with comments from Leo Mendez.

General view of a Burger King sign.
File photo: Stanislaus County Sheriff's Office said Burger King employees had co-operated with detectives, and said they felt the Mendezes were the aggressors in the situation. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images