A Sydney coffee chain has apologised for firing a Black staff member who was told “the locals are a bit racist.”
Ayo Lana, who was born in London and has Nigerian parents, had worked as a barista at Sydney’s XS Espresso for a few weeks, but was let go on Thursday - a move the coffee chain has now acknowledged was “a gross misconduct.”
Ayo told his Instagram followers about his experience.
“Today after my shift the manager slash owner pulled me over to the side and he’s like ‘we’ve been having some complaints recently about your coffee and we’re going to have to let you go,’” he said in an Instagram Story, before adding that he’d only ever had compliments about his coffee.
“Then he goes, ‘you know how Bondi is, the locals they’re a bit racist.’ I’m like ‘oh, that’s the real reason then,’” he added.
“He’s said ‘yeh they like their coffee made by the barista that worked there already’ - who is a white guy. And so I’m like ‘that’s a bit surprising and a bit of shame.’”
The manager went on to tell Ayo he “really liked” him but the “locals like their coffee a certain way.”
After the 25-year-old posted the Instagram Story on Thursday, the head owner called him and apologised.
“It felt sincere,” Ayo said.
“Let’s move on and let’s keep it going. Hopefully this will be a change. The company’s learned their lesson. They can move on and not let this happen again.”
The cafe posted an apology on Instagram saying it was deeply saddened by the incident.
“When we were made aware of the incident, our foremost concern was towards the gentleman who had been mistreated by a manager at our Bondi location,” management said in the caption accompanying the post.
“This was an isolated incident of gross misconduct which should not have happened, and we are terribly remorseful for the treatment he received.”
Ayo told HuffPost he has accepted the apology and is keen to move on.
“The response and support made me feel better about the world we are living in,” he said referring to the Black Lives Matter movement.
XS Espresso added they are dedicated to “auditing every part” of their business and will move to re-train and re-educate all staff members on anti-discrimination.
“(We will) elaborate onboarding program (sic) to ensure anyone who joins our team in the future are strictly made aware of our brand values prior to representing us. Revising our policies so that they are inclusive to keep our team members and customers safe.”
The cafe said the individual involved will “experience appropriate consequences and their fate at the company is yet to be determined.”
Ayo thanked his followers for the support and said he does not hold any anger.
“I am proud of the responses shown,” he said.
“That gives me faith in the world in these current times.”
HuffPost has reached out to XS Espresso for further comment.