Little Caesars has fired two employees after an Ohio couple found pepperonis placed to form a reverse swastika on their pizza. In a statement provided to CNN, Jill Proctor, a Little Caesar Enterprises spokeswoman, said that the employees were fired after they admitted responsibility.
Proctor said that the company was "deeply disappointed that this happened" and said that "this conduct is completely against our values." She added that Little Caesars has zero-tolerance for racism and discrimination in any form." The restaurant chain has reached out to the two customers who had received the pizza, Jason Laska, "to discuss this personally with him."
Little Caesars' decision to terminate the two employees followed reports that Laska, of Brook Park, Ohio, had picked up a ready-made pizza for his family on Saturday night. When he opened the box, he discovered the pepperonis arranged in the shape of a backward swastika. Laska's wife, Misty, shared an image of the pizza to social media after her husband called the store but was unable to get through to an employee. According to Laska, he and his wife wanted "to express our anger and show our family and friends what kind of place it (Little Caesars) was."
"We're trying to get rid of racism. It's like, we're done with that kind of stuff," Laska said, "Just to remind people that keep saying, 'There's no racism,' it's like, yeah, there really is still racism and right here is your proof."
Speaking to News 5, Laska said the employees had allegedly made the pizza as "a joke on a third employee that was there." He said that the pizza was "never intended to go out to a customer, but it did." Laska noted that "even in a joking manner, it's absolutely unacceptable."
Responding to news of the termination, Laska told CNN that the incident is "an example of what needs to change in our world" and that he hopes "that people start to realize that and use their time to make those changes and not blast us for trying to do it."
Misty, meanwhile, told News 5 that terminating the responsible employees isn't necessarily going to cause them to change their behavior, asking, "what repercussions are they getting from that, just termination? When they can just go right down the street and find another job?"