Job Discrimination Article (Participation)

 Local ‘Because you’re black’: Framboise Patisserie in Middle Village, Queens, hit with $25,000 in fines, penalties in discrimination case


Originally published at NY Daily News

Jamilah DaCosta, 25, said she cried in her car after the interview at the bakery.

At the Framboise Patisserie in Middle Village, Queens, the pastries are elegant, the cakes are custom-made — and city officials say the hiring is discriminatory.

“I can’t hire you because you’re black,” Jamilah DaCosta, 25, said she heard when she applied for a job working the counter at the cozy French bake shop.

The Rego Park woman interviewed with co-owner Patty Meimetea in October 2011 but was told she wouldn’t be a good fit for the “counter girl” position because black workers in the front of the store would scare away customers, according to findings by the city Human Rights Commission.

After an investigation and a trial, the commission last week fined the bakery $25,000 for racial and gender discrimination for weeding out DaCosta because of her race and discouraging men from applying for the job with a gender-specific “counter girl” ad on Craigslist.

“I felt hurt. I was disgusted,” DaCosta said of her experience at Framboise Patisserie. “Before I could even pull out my resume or start a formal interview, she was telling me all this negative stuff — she couldn’t hire me because I was black, I would scare away her customers.”

According to DaCosta and the commission, when DaCosta came in for the interview, Meimetea quickly started quizzing her about her nationality. DaCosta said she was American, but after the owner pressed her, she said she was Jamaican and Lebanese, according to the decision.

She told DaCosta her husband would be angry if she hired a black worker for the counter — and said she would hire her if there were a job open in the kitchen, where no one would see her.

She also suggested applying for a job at another Queens bakery where bosses wouldn’t care what the workers look like — and told DaCosta to look at the pictures hanging around the bakery, pointing out they were all of white people.

A shaken DaCosta cried in her car after the disastrous interview.

“They’re not judging me on my personality, but my skin color. What century are we living in?” she said. “I thought I had thick skin, I thought I could withstand anything, but it just completely broke me down.”

The owners denied making racist remarks — and insist DaCosta is lying. “Of course this is not true,” Meimetea said in a brief interview.

Meimetea’s husband and co-owner AJ Saputhanthri said that DaCosta was not hired because the shop had already filled the position and added that DaCosta didn’t have the necessary experience.

“I can’t hire somebody who worked at McDonald’s,” he said. “She don’t even know what is the cookie dough.”

Saputhanthri added that he found any charges of racism absurd, because he himself is from Sri Lanka. “I want the human rights judge to look at me and tell me I look like a white,” he said.

Saputhanthri even accused DaCosta herself of racism, saying she assumed his wife, Meimetea, was racist because she looked white. Meimetea is Greek.

“It’s never true. I swear to you,” he said. “I respect everybody. I don’t do anything bad to people.”

“They want only money,” he said of city officials. “I’m a simple man living simple, working hard … They want to take my money away.”

The commission found the pair’s denials weren’t credible, noting they admitted they had never hired a black person or a man to work the counter in the three years they had been in business, though Saputhanthri said the bakery now has two black employees, including one at the counter.

“Respondents’ actions were blatant violations,” the commission wrote in its decision. “Meimetea’s statements to Ms. DaCosta were cruelly and flagrantly bigoted and demeaning.”

The $25,000 penalty the commission ordered the bakery to pay includes $10,000 in damages to DaCosta, a $10,000 fine for racial discrimination for the shop’s treatment of DaCosta, and a $5,000 fine for gender discrimination for the “counter girl” ad.



4 thoughts on “Job Discrimination Article (Participation)

  1. After reading this article I was ashamed of the bakery because Ms. DaCosta was black. The bakery only wanted white citizens to work and didn’t allow black people to work because they would scare customers away. Racism still exists today and racial issues become violent issues. Any person should deserve to have a job regardless of race and people should understand that everyone has equal human rights. What sounds so stupid is that the owner of the bakery denied saying racial comments to Ms. DaCosta and said that he respects everyone when mainly he was disrespecting Ms.DaCosta’s race. The owner deserved to be fined since he was lying to the public. Any person shouldn’t be discriminated or disrespected because of their race because there can be serious consequences when it’s settled in court.

  2. To me, it seems like this article should come from the 1950’s. The fact that people are still this racists, and upfront about it is ridiculous. I’m personally very glad that the bakery was fined as it should be. What was extra ridiculous about this article was when the husband was commenting about why he did not hire here based off of her previous experience at McDonalds. His grammar was very off and he claims that her past experience is why she isn’t qualified, very contradicting. This type of behavior makes me mad and really opens my eyes to the lack of progress our nation has truly made.

  3. This article is rather appalling. I guess I didn’t fully realize how much racism still occurs to this day. I know it happens day to day and very often, but I though it only happened in small situations and people in small private settings. Reading this article and seeing how this issue is so big in regards to a French bakery “counter girl”. I seems like this is just ridiculous and pathetic because race should no longer be a problem in America. This is also a double negative because not only is this bakery being racist but they are also being sexist. After posting that they are looking for a “counter girl” it may make men feel weird even considering to apply for the job. But a question that really triggers me is: Why didn’t the bakery post and ad for a “white counter girl”? They were being specific with which sex they were looking for, why couldn’t they post to wanting a specific gender as well.

  4. After reading this article it makes me think about last year when I was trying to look for a job for the summer. This is because although I am a white male, no employer wants to hire a college student who has no work experience for only three months or so. The race aspect of this article shows how as a society if and when we see a person color we automatically put them in like a little group in the back of our heads. For example, like how we have talked about in class how we label black people as criminals. In the case of this article the owner who was supposed to conduct the interview automatically took Ms. DaCosta’s race and assumed since she was a black female then she is a “thief” and that she would scare away costumers. On the gender side of this article, as a society we also automatically associate certain job titles with a certain gender. So when we find out that a male either is applying or working in a title in which society would associate as a woman’s job then people start to think of it as extremely weird and abnormal. In reality today’s world there is plenty of where either a man is working under what could be considered as a “woman’s job” and a woman working under what could be a “man’s job.” In all honesty, I know that most of it has to deal with in which the way you were brought up in life, but if society could drop the whole race and gender cards for jobs then we would not have problems as much as like this article and hopefully as a society we would not do racial profiling based off of ones skin color but by their abilities in order to succeed in the job.

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