LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Two former fast-food workers allege they were fired after reporting a district manager for using a slur.  

Ryan, 40, and Arron Whelpley say when they complained about a district manager’s use of a derogatory term for people with disabilities, within days they were fired from their jobs at the Frandor Taco Bell. Both say they are autistic. 

Ryan Whelpley is known to customers of this location for his greetings.  

“Welcome to Taco Bell – the happiest place on earth!” he would say. “How can I help you today?” For the past two years, Ryan’s customer service has garnered attention on social media and beyond.  

“As their transaction would end, I’d tell them to have a taco tastic day, a bahaha blast, a many number of things to make them smile and have a good day,” Ryan says. 

But his employment ended last month when he was terminated, a letter from the company asserts, for leaving work early.  

The timing of the dismissal coincided with he and Arron Whelpley filing complaints about an area manager. 

“She said specifically that a specific member of our autistic team was,” Ryan paused, thinking about how to explain the situation. “Yeah, basically the R slur, she did use that word.” 

The word is a slur for people with developmental disabilities.  

Ryan and Arron Whelpley allege Taco Bell fired them for filing a complaint against a district manager for using a slur for people with developmental disabilities.

Arron, 21, was fired without being notified – that is until they tried to clock in.  

“I had reported her and same thing happen to me,” Arron tells 6 News. “I was fired three days later.” 

The franchise company, Team Lyders located in Brighton, did defer to Taco Bell’s media line in response to emails or phone calls from 6 News.  

Taco Bell Corporation sent a written statement, noting that the franchisee has been a positive force in the community, and says, “We understand from the owners and operator that their organization has zero tolerance for hate speech, has thoroughly investigated the claims, believes that these allegations are meritless and that no one was terminated as a result of making complaints.” 

Two former co-workers of the Whelpley’s declined to go on camera but say none of them had issues with the duo.  

Ryan says the support from the community after announcing the termination on social media has been overwhelmingly positive.

6 News did reach out to the area manager at the center of the complaints but did not hear back.