From the authoritative The Washington Post — wait a second, it’s from the AP, which means everyone is using the same body text and only changing the title:
PITTSBURGH — A white man claims he was fired as manager of a suburban Panera Bread shop for repeatedly having a black man work the cash register instead of putting him in a less visible location and having “pretty young girls” be the cashiers.
He claims the reason was that he bucked race-related personnel rules communicated to him by a district manager for (franchise owner) Sam Covelli
Earlier this year, Donatelli says, the district manager told him, “It’s what Sam wants and what our customers want. They would rather see pretty young girls” at the cash register.
The district manager also “told Donatelli he did not want African Americans working where the public could see them because: ‘it’s what the customers want.”
First, this has nothing to do with Panera; the suit is filed against the franchise owner, Sam Covelli.
Second, it turns out Donatelli also had a beef with them concerning medical leave, but I’d like to offer another explanation for what happened, still bad, but bad in a completely different way: it wasn’t that the employee was black that they objected to, but that he was a man.
If you look at the quotes in the article, the district manager is never quoted as making a comment about race; he is quoted with respect to needing pretty girls to run the register.
Reading the complaint filed in federal court, which I had to pay $24 for, thank you very much– and even granting Donatelli that the district manager is quoted accurately– there is no evidence at all that what he was referring to was the employee’s race; it all fits much better as an issue of sex. Any reference to race is assumed by Donatelli:
Yes, “that’s” an “African American young man”– but which of those four words was Sam objecting to?
I find the absence of anything more concrete a little suspicious. Donatelli may have more evidence that race was indeed the issue, I have no idea, a court will decide. The question here is why the news stories chose to run with the race angle. Note that the story did not even bring up the gender issue as the motivator, it never asked the question, “is it right to only put females in the front register? Should men always work in the back?” which is a much more difficult question to discuss. It chose to make announce that “Panera” was racist– not sexist.
The reason they did this– the reasons dozens of media outlets all came to the conclusion that this was a story about race– is that the AP came to that conclusion, and everyone just used their story. Remember this the next time you’re choosing to get your news from Fox vs. The Washington Post.