Sumiton, AL – A 20-year veteran of the Dora Police Department was refused service by two employees of the Little Caesars pizza restaurant on Bryan Road Tuesday night. By Wednesday morning, Little Caesars had fired them.
Blue Lives Matter reached out to pizza chain's corporate headquarters and received a statement from Jill Proctor, corporate communications manager for Little Caesar Enterprises, Inc., on Wednesday morning.
“We are proud to serve those who tirelessly serve us and we always strive to do the best,” Proctor wrote. “A customer service situation occurred at one of our locations where the crew members of this independently owned and operated franchise location did not follow our core principles. Upon investigation these two crew members were immediately terminated.”
In a Facebook post that has spread quickly throughout the law enforcement community, Dora Police Sergeant Ronnie Phillips described going to Little Caesars to pick up dinner for his family, in his uniform and driving his patrol vehicle, on Feb. 13.
“I pulled up to little Caesars on my way home from work in my marked police unit this evening to get supper for my family. As I pulled up in line I noticed a female outside taking an order from the car in front of me who was not up to the window. As we moved up in line I saw that same female with another female and they made a guy come from what appeared to be the back come out to take my order. I spoke with the young man about it. When I pulled on up to the window both of the females stood by the window and walked back and fourth but refused to take my order take my money or anything!!!!! My family and I have been coming here since they opened several years ago!!!!” Sgt. Phillips posted.
“I have NEVER in my entire life done anything, don’t know that I’ve ever even seen these females before. I can assure u I will never come back to this store!!!!” the sergeant wrote.
Sgt. Phillips is a U.S. Navy veteran who served in Operation Desert Storm, and has been a K9 Officer and a certified sniper for his department’s SWAT team, according to the Dora Police Department’s Facebook page.
The sergeant said that when he went inside the restaurant to cancel his order and get his money back a few minutes later, the manager was very polite.
He said the young man, who actually took his order after the first two employees refused and ignored him, was also very professional and polite.
But he expressed serious frustration with the way he was treated by a restaurant he and his wife have patronized regularly since it first opened.
“People want to throw fits about racism in this country!!!!! People want to say how u dislike the police!!!! Well I’m telling u I have been in law enforcement for 20 years. I have tried my dead level best to be even across the board. If u are respectful to me u get respect. No matter what the problem is no matter color race religion or anything else!” Sgt. Phillips posted.
His wife, Michelle Phillips, also expressed her anger at the situation via social media and said she had reached out to the restaurant’s corporate offices.
“2 of the girls in Little Caesars Pizza in Sumiton just refused to wait on Ronnie. He was in uniform. I am livid to say the least!!!!!! We will NEVER order from there again!!! The manager was notified and so was their corporate office, I was not very nice at all!!!!” Michelle posted on Facebook.
Sgt. Phillips said he received a response from Little Caesars’ corporate offices early on Wednesday morning.
“I have already received a phone call from a corporate representative,” Sgt. Phillips posted. “He was very respectful and apologized for the behavior of the employees of that store. He advised that the people responsible for this behavior have been disciplined.”
“He also wanted me to know that this type of behavior was not the motto of the store nor would it be tolerated. He also thanked me for coming forward with my complaint,” he posted.
However, members of the community who reached out to that Little Caesars location, angry about their treatment of this law enforcement officer got a very different response – several posted that they were told the employees had been playing a joke on the sergeant.
“The managers and employees insist it was a joke now that they have many people calling in with questions. Hell no! Better be glad it wasn’t my husband!! Call corporate and support our police, 1-800-722-3727,” Stella M. Glover posted on the Walker County Today Facebook page.
“Little Caesars here in Sumiton turned away one of our officers WHILE IN UNIFORM. You’ve lost this Police Families business, and hopefully the business of anyone who walks into our salon,” Glover posted, referring to Salon 6 in Sumiton, located across the street from the restaurant where Sgt. Phillips was dismissed by the staff. Her husband is also a police officer.
In the wake of such condemnations on social media, Little Caesars went a step beyond their apology to Sgt. Phillips, and made a gesture of support for the entire law enforcement family.
“We’ll be treating the Sumiton police station to free pizza this afternoon, Wednesday, February 14,” Proctor said in her statement. “Plus, any current or retired police officer or immediate family member can bring proof of service to any Birmingham, Alabama metro Little Caesars location this evening and receive a free pizza of their choice, on us. We look forward to serving you.”