NY Bakery Fined $25,000 For Telling Applicant No Hire Because She's Black

25-year old Jamilah DeCosta applied for a counter position in 2011.

Getty Images via Daily News
It's been nearly 50 years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act, but racial equality in the workplace is far from a reality. African-American workers are still on the receiving end of hateful epithets. They're also still twice as likely to be unemployed as White workers, as AOL Jobs has reported. Looking for on-the-ground proof of racism in the workplace? Here's what appears to be one example: Jamilah DeCosta said when she applied for a counter job at the Framboise Patisserie in the New York City borough of Queens back in 2011, she was told by one of the owners, "I can't hire you because you're black."

The 25-year old native of the Rego Park section of Queens applied for the counter job after responding to an ad on Craigslist. And she claims the racist message was delivered directly by bakery co-owner Patty Meimetea during her interview. Shaken by the experience, DeCosta filed a complaint with the city's Human Rights Commission. After an investigation and trial, the commission fined the bakery $25,000. The penalty was also the result of the "counter girl" ad's gender bias excluding men, according to the commission.

A White Face Preferred For Customers
In speaking to New York's Daily News, DeCosta said she was dismissed out of hand by the bakery. "Before I could even pull out my resume or start a formal interview, [Meimetea] was telling me all this negative stuff - she couldn't hire me because I was black, I would scare away her customers," she told the newspaper. DeCosta added she was repeatedly asked about her nationality in the interview.

In speaking to the New York newspaper, Meimetea denied the story. "Of course this is not true," she said. Instead, she claimed, the reason DeCosta was rejected was because the position had already been filled.

But according to DeCosta, the bakery owner had a whole explanation as to why she couldn't tap an African-American to work the counter. She's alleged the owner told DeCosta she'd happily hire her to work in the kitchen if a job were available, as she'd be out of sight. And according to DeCosta, Meimetea said her husband and co-owner AJ Saputhanthri would be angry with an African-American at the counter.

The city's investigation found that Framboise Patisserie had never hired a Black worker in its three years of existence. After the investigation was completed, however, two Black workers have been hired to work at the bakery, according to Saputhanthri. And one is now working at the counter.

According to the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United), a nonprofit advocacy group for restaurant workers, racism in the restaurant industry is rampant. Workers of color are paid almost $4-an-hour less than white workers, ROC-United data reveals. Why is the disparity so great? As ROC-United founder Saru Jayaraman previously told AOL Jobs, "There's an expectation that white workers will be better at selling the food."

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good for her

October 06 2015 at 3:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I mean really. If you're going to be racist with your hiring then just tell them you're not interested. Don't go into the whole why thing. I myself have seen and heard many racism in the restaurant industry. I worked in one place where a busboy who had plenty of experience making drinks wasn't promoted to be bartender when the place was hiring. The managers excuse was that he didn't interact with the costumes enough. Truth is, is that this was a scottish inspired restaurant in the LES of manhattan. They didn't want to have a mexican guy interacting with customers since they wanted a certain image. Pretty much all of the bartenders were tall, Caucasian males even the one they hired. Another place I worked at was a British pub on the UES where the chef only taught white male cooks to make orders to purveyors and manage the kitchen. Majority of the kitchen workers were Mexican and speak or write in English very well so I could understand that. There was a black guy working there. He was American and could speak and write in English fluently, instead teaching him how to make orders, the chef just hires white guys to do the managing job. When he left, he then had a British bloke come work there on a visa and immediately taught him how to make orders ad manage. This is all regardless of experience. Meanwhile the black guy was working there longer.

June 24 2014 at 4:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why did they have to say those things? Just say thank you and interview the next person. Be smart about it if you want to be racist.

June 01 2014 at 2:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Stupid racists! What small minds. I'd boycott the bakery if I lived in NY. There's always Carlos Bakery and Buddy and family.

October 07 2013 at 2:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hugh G. Moore

Bad attitude, Bad People, will never change The world,, who baked Your Bread Today??

October 07 2013 at 11:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What's the use spending years building capital, getting permits and opening your dream business if the Government tells you who you can and cannot hire? Forced socialism is just as bad as forced isolation to human beings. She should have thanked them for being honest and applied somewhere else.

October 06 2013 at 3:31 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bryee5's comment

No, it's not. It's called doing what's right. Being racist is not doing the right thing. Too bad you have to be Forced to do what's right! There are other countries you can live in and be a racist is you're really that stupid and narrow minded.

October 07 2013 at 2:28 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Yes it was racism, but mostly I'm going with Stupidism.
Maybe in Mr and Mrs Saputhanthri's former country it's ok, but if you want to do business in the US...not so much!

October 06 2013 at 2:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cmfrtblebbw's comment

I see what you are saying, but it's Never OK to be a racist! Good people have moved way past that. It's just the low lifes and low thinkers who think SKIN color makes all the difference in the world. NO one should be judged by the color of their skin. No where! It's just Ignorant.

October 07 2013 at 2:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nathaniel Green

This has nothing to do with weather whites are better at selling food. This is just pure racism at work here that's all. In most cases they know that black people do not have the resources or access to lawyers to fight back.

So they take a gamble and get away with this all the time. Its not just in the restaurant industry but in every area in American life it the way it is in America. They hate for people of color is still very strong even though we have a black president.

That in some ways has made this worst for average black people. This is because the white haters are angry a black man is in the White House so they take this anger out on the weakest of black people who do not have power to fight back they are cowards who hide behind keyboards
instead of white hoods.

October 06 2013 at 9:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's too bad they couldn't be fined for stupid, too.

October 05 2013 at 7:46 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Everyone knows that these american blacks don't wanna work anyway, So what is the big deal.. besides, I hardly doubt that she is "African-American" unless she was born in Africa.. AT best she is probably just an american american that was born a black colour.. I am an American born here so I am native to America. & IT makes no difference where my relatives may have been born either.. Can't you find any recent news from last week or do you dwell in the past, 2011?? C'mon.. That rag, The Huffington press digs up more garbage than anyone else online & every one hates them basTURDS..

October 05 2013 at 9:49 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

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