Editor's note: This article has been updated throughout.
A Denison Whataburger employee who refused to serve Denison Police officers is no longer with the company, it said Saturday afternoon in an emailed statement from Whataburger Corporate Communications.
Two DPD officers were refused service by an employee at the Denison location just after midnight on Saturday morning.
In the statement, Whataburger Corporate Communications said, “We immediately launched an internal investigation when we heard these reports, and have learned of an isolated incident where an individual employee acted out of line with Whataburger’s values to treat all customers with respect. We took swift action and this person is no longer employed by us.”
Denison Police Lt. Mike Eppler said the female employee said she hates police and used profane language toward the officers.
Sgt. Holly Jenkins, who Eppler said was the patrol sergeant on duty during the incident, contacted the manager on duty at the restaurant.
In a public post on her Facebook profile, Jenkins said, the manager told her, “‘I don’t get into politics.’
“The employee was unapologetic, expressed her hatred toward police and stated that she would continue to refuse service to police officers,” she continued. “The two officers were eventually served by another employee but we now fear officers food will be tampered with.”
In a post on the DPD Facebook page, Chief Jay Burch said, “The employee alleged ‘cops beat up my boyfriend and are racists.’ When questioned further, the employee said her boyfriend was ‘beat up’ when arrested by DPD a few weeks ago. The police supervisor went to the station and found the documentation of the arrest, then reviewed the video or audio of the arrest from the arresting officer’s dash cam. It was a ‘routine’ arrest. There was no physical altercation and no one injured. So the employee was simply lying about her boyfriend getting ‘beat up’ by police.”
When contacted Saturday morning, a local manager referred the Herald Democrat to the corporate office.
The company said it is working to make things right.
“We’ve also reached out to the police sergeant to apologize and plan to speak with the other officers involved to apologize in person and make this right,” the company’s corporate communications division said in its statement. “Whataburger truly appreciates our law enforcement and their efforts to protect and serve our communities.”
Whataburger Corporate Communications said the other employees involved in the incident will go through retraining.
This incident mirrors a similar one two years ago at a Whataburger location in Lewisville when an employee said he wouldn’t serve Michael Magovern, a city of Milford police officer, and Cameron Beckham, a reserve deputy for the Strawn Marshal’s Office, who were both off duty at the time.
“First words we hear are, ‘We don’t serve police officers here,’” Beckham told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “We were just kind of in shock. Did this just happen?”
The employee, who was terminated by the company but never identified, later told WFAA his comment was intended in jest.
Whataburger is a family-owned, Texas-based company that lists its core values as: “Serve the highest quality products, treat others with respect, invest in the community and be fiscally responsible.”
Burch said he was surprised the incident occurred in Denison.
“I’ve seen similar service refusal stories like this around the state and country but never thought we’d see it locally. Yet, while disappointing that this one business takes or supports such an anti-police stance, we relish in the fact the majority of the Denison businesses and citizens we serve greatly support us and what we do to try to keep our community safe.
“Oh, one last thing……Even though this one business accepts employees that refuse to serve and then curse cops, I guarantee you when they call 9-1-1 and need us, we’ll come running. That’s what cops do.”