‘Because You’re Black’

By Nathan Place and Erin Durkin, NYDailyNews.com

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Framboise Patisserie

At the Framboise Patisserie in Middle Village, Queens, the pastries are elegant, the cakes are custom-made — and city officials say the hiring is discriminatory.“I can’t hire you because you’re black,” Jamilah DaCosta, 25, said she heard when she applied for a job working the counter at the cozy French bake shop.

The Rego Park woman interviewed with co-owner Patty Meimetea in October 2011 but was told she wouldn’t be a good fit for the “counter girl” position because black workers in the front of the store would scare away customers, according to findings by the city Human Rights Commission.

After an investigation and a trial, the commission last week fined the bakery $25,000 for racial and gender discrimination for weeding out DaCosta because of her race and discouraging men from applying for the job with a gender-specific “counter girl” ad on Craigslist.

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Jamilah DaCosta, 25

“I felt hurt. I was disgusted,” DaCosta said of her experience at Framboise Patisserie. “Before I could even pull out my resume or start a formal interview, she was telling me all this negative stuff — she couldn’t hire me because I was black, I would scare away her customers.”

According to DaCosta and the commission, when DaCosta came in for the interview, Meimetea quickly started quizzing her about her nationality. DaCosta said she was American, but after the owner pressed her, she said she was Jamaican and Lebanese, according to the decision.

She told DaCosta her husband would be angry if she hired a black worker for the counter — and said she would hire her if there were a job open in the kitchen, where no one would see her.(…)

A shaken DaCosta cried in her car after the disastrous interview.

“They’re not judging me on my personality, but my skin color. What century are we living in?” she said. “I thought I had thick skin, I thought I could withstand anything, but it just completely broke me down.”(…)

The $25,000 penalty the commission ordered the bakery to pay includes $10,000 in damages to DaCosta, a $10,000 fine for racial discrimination for the shop’s treatment of DaCosta, and a $5,000 fine for gender discrimination for the “counter girl” ad.

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