It has been so long since I witnessed racism in its raw, base form, so long since I heard someone actually utter the phrase “It’s because you are black”, that when I first heard this story, my initial thought were “What? Here? In the UK? In 2015? In a professional work environment?”
I had so many questions and simply not enough answers. Divine Tenn, a young black teenager working at McDonald’s as a means to save up for university was told by her boss, Jaskaran Singh Khela, that she couldn’t pick up any extra shifts because she is black.
Divine Tenn, 18, has been working at the Fort Parkway, West Midland McDonald’s on a zero hour contract since March 2014, earning £5.19/hr, making approximately £400 a month. She was originally working about 20 hours a week, but in July 2015 she first noticed something was wrong when she tried to sign up for some extra shifts and was refused two shifts by the assistant manager. She says:
I spoke to some of the other employees, who happened to be black, and they said they hadn’t been allowed to pick up any shifts either. I decided to call my assistant manager to find out what was going on. My assistant manager said a couple of the other black members of staff had not been doing very well at work, so all of the black staff were being banned from taking on shifts. I was horrified… and because I wasn’t on a proper contract I had no rights and there wasn’t anything I could do.
In an audio recording of the phone call, Mr Khela, 26, can be heard telling Divine that “the black people can’t take no shifts because they’re not performing”.
Oooh, perfection – an audio recording!
Divine continues as saying:
I’ve always worked hard and covered as many shifts as possible while I’ve been saving up to go to university. To be discriminated against like this because I am black is shocking and depressing. I was so disgusted I handed in my resignation that day, I refuse to work for a company that doesn’t value me because of the colour of my skin.
McDonald’s is giving the usual corporate mumbo jumbo “We’re taking it all very seriously…blah blah blah…investigation…blah…blah…blah…McDonald’s likes recruiting people of all colours for our minimum wage jobs (I paraphrase)…blah blah…support for the victims” but I just feel that this young lady’s story is being heard because she had an audio recording and the manager’s words couldn’t possibly mean anything else otherwise the wriggling would have been immense.
Please, Ms Tenn, don’t quit publicising this till your entire university education is paid off by the employers. And get an apology from the goat who said it. Goat.
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