A Tennessee black woman recently filed a discrimination complaint against a Catholic priest and his parish after being denied work because of the color of her skin. However, the priest denies the accusation, claiming that it’s only his German dog who is “kinda racist”.
When Emily Weaver, the employee of a cleaning company in Collierville, Tennessee decided to quit her job, she came by the Catholic Church of the Incarnation, to introduce her replacement, LaShundra Allen, who happened to be black. the two women were reportedly stopped by the church secretary as soon as they arrived and told that Reverend Jacek Kowal would have to be asked if the replacement was ok. The two cleaning women waited for the secretary to return, and were eventually informed that LaShaundra was not a suitable replacement because of the priest’s “racist” dog.
“I’m sorry,” Kowal’s secretary said, according to a complaint sent to the Catholic Diocese of Memphis. “We are not trying to be rude, but the dog doesn’t like black people.”
Despite Weaver’s suggestion to put Ceasar, the priest’s German shepherd, in a cage, Reverend Jacek allegedly “insisted that he didn’t want Allen there” to his parish staff members, LaShundra Allen indicated in a letter to the diocese.
“I felt very disrespected as a black woman. He made me feel so low because of my skin color,” Allen’s letter stated. “This was supposed to be my first day and it was one of the most degrading days of my life.”
“I didn’t even know what to say. They were acting like I was just supposed to be OK with it. Joking around with it, and I’m just like, ‘That’s not OK. You just told me you didn’t want me in your house because I’m colored skinned,” Allen told Fox13.
Instead of condemning the attitude of Reverend Jacek Kowal, the Catholic Diocese of Memphis defended him, saying that despite the poor choice of words, his intention was to protect the cleaning woman from what sounds like a racist dog.
“Although the parish staff member’s choice of words was highly unfortunate and imprecise—they were not motivated by racial animus,” said Bishop David Talley of Memphis. “Rather, the concern by all involved was the safety of these women, one of whom was a stranger to the dog, and they knew that attempting to crate the dog would be dangerous when its owner was not present. Their concern was to prevent the cleaning company employees from being injured.”
However, Emily Weaver described Caesar as a “gentle giant”, adding that he was very well trained and that he had never displayed any signs of aggression in front of her.
“I have watched Father with Caesar and he is a very well-trained dog. I never once saw any sign of aggression from Caesar,” the woman told Yahoo Lifestyle. “He would sit by the door and wait for me when he heard my car pull up.”
The Diocese insists that the church staff’s decision to turn away the black woman was justified by Caesar’s history with black people. “The staff were aware that years ago the dog had been threatened by a person who happened to be African American, causing the dog to be somewhat more agitated initially around strangers with darker skin,” a statement from the Diocese of Memphis reads.