A Catholic priest has caused controversy after blaming his ‘racist’ dog for not allowing him to hire a black woman as a cleaner.
Staff working at a church in Memphis, Tennessee, reportedly told African American trainee cleaner LaShundra Allen ‘I’m sorry, we are not trying to be rude, but the dog doesn’t like black people.’
They were said to be referring to Reverend Jacek Kowal’s German shepherd, Ceasar, who staff have described as being ‘kinda racist.’
Speaking to Fox13, Kowal cited this as being down to Ceasar having ‘had a bad experience with a stranger who happened to be African American’ when he was a puppy.
Allen told the news channel:
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 coloured skinned.
The incident happened when Emily Weaver, a white cleaner who had previously worked for the church, brought Allen with her to the Catholic Church of the Incarnation in Collierville, with a view to taking over her cleaning duties there.
In response, the Catholic Diocese of Memphis said Allen’s treatment by the church was ‘not motivated by racial animus.’
The statement, from Bishop David Talley, said Ceasar had become ‘somewhat more agitated initially around strangers with darker skin, until the dog gets to know them.’
However, Weaver has criticised the church’s explanation, and questioned why Allen wasn’t given the chance to get to know Ceasar.
She told the Commercial Appeal:
Why wasn’t LaShundra given the chance to get to know him?
Those staff represent a religion, a church, a school. In fact, one of the biggest Catholic organizations in the area.
They’re continuing to be disrespectful by attempting to brush the comments made off.
Weaver and Allen have since hired an attorney, who wrote to the church claiming Kowal ‘made no effort to come and meet’ Allen or deny claims his dog is racist.
The letter continued:
The two church office employees then reiterated that Father Jacek ‘did not want (Ms. Allen) there’ and that they needed to leave.
Both Ms Allen and Ms Weaver were shocked, humiliated, and felt severely disrespected by this treatment and the statements.
The two cleaners are said to be so upset by how the church has handled the entire situation, they have decided to continue pursuing legal action.
It’s not quite clear what they want the outcome of their lawsuit to be.
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Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining the LADbible Group team in 2017.