(KUTV) — Two employees of a Portland bakery were fired earlier this month for refusing to serve a woman who came in after closing time. The woman claims they refused to serve her because she is black, ABC 30 reports.
Back to Eden Bakery released an assortment of public apologies after the incident, and then fired the two employees. In a Facebook post, the bakery said they are doing business in a "gentrified neighborhood in a racist city within a racist state of a racist country."
In a statement, Back to Eden Bakery stated that according to its own surveillance, a black woman named "Lillian" entered the business at 9:06 p.m. — six minutes after the bakery's closing time.
Lillian is well known in the area as a "professional equity activist," ABC 30 reports.
The bakery's employees had turned off the business's "Open" sign, but several customers who had already ordered were still inside. ABC 30 reports that two other women who went to the bakery two minutes before Lillian informed her that the bakery was closed for the night.
According to the bakery, Lillian left the store briefly and then began to record video.
In a statement, the bakery said that although the employees were following protocol and they do not consider the two employees to be racist, they were fired because "sometimes impact outweighs intent," ABC 30 reports.
The bakery also said in the statement that the way the employees approached denying the woman service "lacked sensitivity and understanding of the racial implications at work."
The two employees were fired because the woman and the "clamoring public" demanded they be fired, the bakery said in the statement.
Twitter was quick to condemn the bakery, referring to the incident as the "#StarbucksEffect".
The bakery says they welcome customers who share their values of "inclusivity and dismantling the white supremacist hetero-patriarchy."
Read the bakery's full Facebook statement:
We just became aware of the very disturbing incident that occurred last night in one of our establishments and want to do everything in our power to properly address the situation, making sure that nothing like this ever happens again. Back to Eden Bakery is 100% committed to being a welcoming and supportive environment for all customers who share our values of inclusivity and dismantling the white supremacist hetero-patriarchy. This is not just talk for us or a tactic to make us appear in any certain way.
Lillian, we are so incredibly sorry for the treatment you received from someone on our staff. What you experienced in our shop is absolutely egregious and we are already taking all of the necessary steps to deal with this appropriately. First and foremost, we have let the two staff members go immediately as there will never be room in our organization for anyone who is inclined to give such poor customer service. Admittedly we have had issues with staff trying to enforce our closing hours too firmly without being sensitive to the fact that that person came out of their way to support our business. Whatever their reason for denying you service is not acceptable and flies directly in the face of the experience we aim to provide our customers.
But we also recognize that simply firing the employees in question is not nearly enough to fully address the incident. Even though a very large portion of our staff are women of color and/or members of the LGBTQPOC community it is clear that we obviously have some more work to do to make sure that every single person we employ upholds our values and commitments. We have been supporters of the Equity and Beyond Workshops led by local social justice advocate Cameron Whitten, and will be seeking opportunities to provide inclusivity training for our organization moving forward. Already in the works, we are donating 10% of our Mother's Day sales to the Black mama Bail Out Project and will begin hosting Brown Hope, a reparations happy hour to directly support the Black community that supports us.
Knowing that we are doing business in a gentrified neighborhood in a racist city within a racist state of a racist country, we see it as our moral and personal responsibility to use our platform and privilege to support marginalized communities, educate the public about the very serious issues facing people of color and demand meaningful change. We are not only allied with you, but we would like to consider ourselves fully committed along with you to the social justice revolution this country sorely needs.
Having expressed all of that, we still do not feel that these words suffice and would love the opportunity to meet with you, Lillian, and any other community members that would like to discuss this further. We want to make sure that at the end of this, everyone fully feels heard and valued and that we dealt with this in the most appropriate manner.
From the bottom of our hearts we are beyond grieved by this situation and hope that the POC community continues to feel inspired to support us as it always has.
The post was signed by John Blomgren, Co-Owner/CFO & General Manager of Back to Eden Bakery. The Facebook post has since been deleted, but is preserved in a digital archive.