A social media mess over a manager’s racist remarks was just the tip of the iceberg
Boba Guys, the San Francisco-founded tea drink chain with locations in Los Angeles, New York, and across the Bay Area, is the focus of new allegations of racial discrimination and sexual harassment, just weeks after it fired a manager for racist comments made viz social media in 2018.
The company has been publically vocal about its advocacy of the current push for civil rights and social justice, announcing via its social channels that it supports the Black Lives Matter movement and opposes police brutality. But employees who spoke to the SF Chronicle say that incident wasn’t isolated.
According to former employee Jasmine Fossett, a manager at a New York Boba Guys allegedly told her in 2018 that “Black people start stealing after the first three weeks of working,” at Boba Guys, then reduced her hours when she was critical of those remarks. When she told the company’s SF-based management, she says they apologized but took no further action.
Wen Neale, an employee at a Mission Boba Guys, says “he dealt with a manager who sexually harassed him at work, constantly asking him out on dates when he wasn’t interested,” but his complaints to higher-ups went unanswered. He says that same manager referred to Black and Latino employees as “lazy and half-assed.”
Still others say that when forced to deal with racist customers who attacked workers on the basis of their ethnicity, “we were told we were the problem,” Union Square staffer Tamia Proctor says.
While co-founders Andrew Chau and Bin Chen told the Chron that they “were surprised to hear about some of these allegations,” speaking to Eater SF earlier this month, Chau seemed more aware of the issues at Boba Guys, saying then that “we have to dismantle everything related to systemic racism, which is apparently rampant in our company.”
And in other news...
- [The New Yorker] discovers San Francisco’s network of trailers that cater to food delivery apps, noting that “customers may find themselves paying a premium for meals similar to those found at a fast-food restaurant, or in a supermarket freezer.”
- An emergency ordinance intended to help San Francisco food workers left jobless during the pandemic has been approved by the city’s Board of Supervisors. The law would require restaurants and businesses with over 100 employees that laid off staff to offer jobs to their those employees first, now that reopening is underway. [SF Examiner]
- Karl Mondon, a photographer with the [Bay Area News Group], captured a slew of photos of shuttered local bars.
- Bay Area mini chain Philz is reportedly pressuring a worker with underlying health conditions that make her vulnerable to coronavirus infection to return to work. She says that “Philz is not enforcing rules requiring employees to wear masks and stay apart from one another,” and has taken her case to CAL/OSHA, the agency in charge of enforcing safety rules in the workplace. [SF Chronicle]
- As recently as 2015, San Jose-founded Chuck E. Cheese restaurants reportedly displayed and sold Confederate flags. [San Jose Mercury News]
- A patron at St. James Gate, a bar and restaurant in Belmont that recently reopened for indoor dining, was caught on video in an apparent cough attack on a bartender who asked her to socially distance and to wear a mask. [ABC 7]