Sure, everyone can be rude occasionally, even in the service industry. But at the Safeway at 1100 4th St. SW, near the Southwest waterfront, things went much farther last week.

Jason Morgan and his partner Brendan Harrington told Metro Weekly that they’d just put their food on the conveyor belt when they heard their check-out person say something awful: “Oh God, they’re faggots.”

Understandably, Harrington was taken aback. “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear what you said,” he replied. The couple says the homophobic employee only got bolder: “You guys are fucking faggots.”

Morgan and Harrington left their groceries where they were, went to the store’s management, and later filed a complaint with the D.C. Office of Human Rights, Metro Weekly says.

Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells heard about the story and confronted Safeway, eliciting an apology:

We extend our sincerest apologies to Mr. Morgan and Mr. Harrington for the completely unacceptable comments by our employee. Safeway employs and serves people from all backgrounds, and absolutely does not condone discrimination or intolerance of any kind by any staff member.  The company is reviewing the matter and will take appropriate corrective action.

There’s a video that purportedly shows the clerk herself apologizing. A slight smile plays on her lips, though that could just be embarrassment. In any event, the mea culpa is a half-assed one, “I’m deeply sorry for if it offended him in any type of way.”

Safeway spokesperson Craig Muckle says Safeway has tried to contact Morgan and Harrington to issue a “direct apology” to them, but haven’t been able to reach them. As for the employee, she’s being investigated, says Muckle. If the couple decides to return to Safeway, they don’t have to worry about running into her, Muckle explains. “She’s not in the store,” he says. The cashier no longer has “contact with customers.”

Muckle says he can’t clarify whether she’s been suspended or fired for legal reasons.

Update: Safeway has informed Wells that the cashier was fired.

Photo by Daquella manera via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0