A Sydney cafe chain has apologised to a former barista and promised to take “corrective actions” after he was sacked for being black.
Ayo Lana, from London, says he was fired from his job at Bondi’s XS Espresso after being told the locals were “a bit racist”.
“It was going well, no complaints whatsoever. And then today after my shift the manager pulls me off to the side and he’s just like, ‘Ayo we’ve been having some complaints recently about your coffee and we are going to have to let you go’,” Mr Lana said in a video posted on Instagram.
“I’m like, ‘Oh that’s very surprising given I have only heard good things and I have only got compliments about it.
“Then he goes, ‘Well you know how Bondi is, the locals are a bit racist … they like their coffee made by the people that are there already, by the barista that’s there already, who’s a white guy’.
“I really like you, but the locals, they like their coffee a certain way,” Mr Lana said he was told.
The video sparked outrage on social media, following weeks of anti-racism protests in Australia and overseas.
“Sorry this happened to you, you shouldn’t have had to go through that. We’re all with you!” one follower wrote.
XS Espresso responded to the incident with a statement on Friday, saying it was “deeply saddened” to learn of the “gross misconduct which should not have happened”.
“As a brand we stand in solidarity against systemic racism, and are extremely disheartened and grieved that inequality was among us,” the company said.
“This was an isolated incident of gross misconduct which should not have happened, and we are terribly remorseful for the treatment he received,” it added.
The cafe chain said it had spoken with Mr Lana and would “continue to be in discussion with him regarding corrective actions we will be taking”.
“We in no way tolerate racism of any form and will do all in our power to ensure we learn from this incident and to never allow it to exist among our brands culture,” it said.
It said staff would be retrained and re-educated on anti-discrimination, while company policies would be revised to be more inclusive.
“The individual who was involved will experience appropriate consequences and their fate at the company is yet to be determined,” it added.
On Instagram, Mr Lana thanked his followers for their support and said he hoped his experience could be “a lesson learned for all”.
“After speaking to the owner of the whole company, I do believe that he is shocked and saddened by what happened and the manager of the Bondi franchise has been reprimanded for his actions,” he said.
“I’m happy to put a pin in it, to move on and to not waste any more time on this situation … Thank you all. The support has been crazy, completely unexpected.”
The incident comes after a British doctor last week spoke out about the “staggering amount of racism” he had experienced in Australia.
In a thread on Twitter, psychiatrist Kamran Ahmed said he had been subjected to “monkey noises” and told by children, “You did 9/11”.
“As a psychiatrist I know how damaging racism is for mental health. We all have a duty to try and eradicate it. We should be able to accept that there can be lots of good things about Australia and problems that need addressing. If we don’t, we can’t progress,” he told news.com.au.