Jamilah DaCosta didn’t know what century she was actually living in after an interview with the co-owner of Framboise Patisserie, a French bakery in Queens, New York. In 2011, DaCosta interviewed with Patty Meimetea and was told she was not suitable for a “counter girl” position “because you’re Black.” Allegedly, Meimetea also told DaCosta that Black workers at the front of the store would scare away customers.
“I felt hurt. I was disgusted,” DaCosta said. “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.”
In an act of “benevolence” Meimetea told DaCosta that although she wouldn’t hire her for a counter position, she’d be happy to put her in the kitchen, “where customers wouldn’t see her”, if a job became available.
Meimetea’s co-owner and husband co-owner AJ Saputhanthri denied all of the accusations.
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 Human Rights Commission had the last word and laid down hefty fines. 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.