RIDGECREST (CBSLA.com) — Taco Bell has fired the unidentified employee who caused a social media storm after appearing in an online photo licking a stack of taco shells, according to a statement on the company’s website.
The picture, originally posted by user “Jj O’Brien Nolan” on the fast food chain’s Facebook feed Sunday, was taken by the employee’s co-worker, who was also terminated, at a Taco Bell in Ridgecrest, which is located in Kern County.
“We do not believe these employees harmed, or intended to harm, anyone,” said Taco Bell in a statement. “But we deplore the impressions this has caused to our customers, fans, franchisees, and team members. The behavior is unacceptable for people working in a restaurant. Our franchisee is responsible for the employment and conduct of his restaurant’s employees and he has informed us that he immediately suspended the employee shown in the photo and is in the process of terminating his employment. The employee who took the photo no longer works there. As we complete our investigation we will work with our franchisee to implement any additional action we find appropriate to address this situation and ensure it never happens again.”
The restaurant also claimed the shells were used for training back in March and were about to be thrown out.
“Two employees, however, used them to take a photo for an internal contest in which company and franchise employees could submit for approval photos of themselves enjoying their first bite of the product,” said Taco Bell officials. “The contest had clear guidelines about what was acceptable and unacceptable. This image was clearly unacceptable – it violated the rules and spirit of the contest, and the employees never submitted it. But an employee posted it on a personal social media page in violation of the franchisee’s policies, and it emerged online in social media.”