The manager of a Subway sandwich shop in Houston, Texas, was fired after text messages revealed that he refused to hire a teen because she was black.
The situation came to a head after a conversation between the manager and a Subway employee went viral on social media. The employee had texted his boss after collecting the job application from high school student Katelyn Simmons, who happened to be his friend, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
“Girl brought in her application. I'm leaving it on the table for you tomorrow,” the employee wrote. The manager then asked how Simmons looked.
"Black girl long dark hair. Shortish," the employee replied. That’s when the conversation turned racist, with the manager writing back, “Oh no thanks. I don't want those people in our store lol."
The shocked employee took a screenshot of the conversation and sent it to Simmons, who told Fox 26 Houston she was “appalled and disturbed” by the flippant discrimination.
"It's the 21st century and there's still people so bold and open about it like that," Simmons said.
Even the employee was taken aback by the text message exchange — so much so, in fact, that he reportedly quit.
Simmons also posted the text messages on Facebook. “I am a 17 year old girl who is academically exceptional and extremely involved and it hurts me to be facing racism today,” she wrote.
Simmons’ mother, Tamika, said the text message exchange “cut me deep,” but she had faith that her community — online and offline — would rise to the challenge of bringing the issue to light.
"Most of the people who took it and ran with it first are members of this community who know our family and what this community stands for,” the mom told Fox 26.
In response, Subway shared a statement with Yahoo Lifestyle:
“The manager of this location was immediately terminated for her actions. The Franchise Owner has reached out to the young woman who applied for the position to apologize and encourage her to consider re-applying. The former-manager’s actions do not reflect the openness and values shown by Subway® Franchise Owners and their staffs. The Subway brand and its independent Franchise Owners are inclusive and welcome all individuals to be part of the Subway restaurant teams.”
But Simmons and her mom said the response she got from Subway was not quite as apologetic. She told Fox 26 that the Subway franchise owner seemed more concerned with retaliation after manager’s comment went viral.
"[The franchise owner] just assumed again because we were African American that there was going to be some type of violent response to that," Tamika said. "There was no apology. There was no, ‘We support you guys. We want you to consider being on our team.’ There was none of that," added Simmons.
Simmons did get a happy ending, though, in the form of job leads from companies that heard about her story. The teen is expected to start working at one of them, a wellness boutique called Quench IV Studio, in a few days.
Esele McNeal, the business owner told Houston news station KTRK that when she contacted Simmons fo an interview, “She sounded like a doll. She sounded great.”
And McNeal is already offering Simmons some sage advice. “Not every no is a permanent no,” she said. “Continue to keep pushing, and just be focused on that next yes that will come to you eventually.”
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