Black housekeeper denied church job over priest's 'kinda racist' dog

Black housekeeper denied church job over priest's 'kinda racist' dog
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The Catholic Diocese of Memphis, Tenn., is rejecting an African American woman's assertion that she was denied a job because of "racial bias and discrimination," despite her being told that a priest's dog "doesn't like black people."

The diocese issued a statement on Friday following an investigation into an incident involving a woman who said she was denied a job as a house cleaner because of a priest's "racist" dog. 


LaShundra Allen had arrived at the home of Rev. Jacek Kowal earlier this year for what was supposed to be her first day cleaning the rectory at the Catholic Church of the Incarnation in Collierville, Tenn., The Washington Post reported. Emily Weaver, a white woman who had previously cleaned the rectory, came with Allen, intending to train her to be her replacement. 

But a secretary informed them that this arrangement wasn't suitable because of the priest's dog. 

“I’m sorry,” Kowal’s secretary said, according to a complaint sent to the Catholic Diocese of Memphis last month. “We are not trying to be rude, but the dog doesn’t like black people.”

Bishop David Talley said in a letter to area Catholics that while the "parish staff member’s choice of words was highly unfortunate and imprecise—they were not motivated by racial animus." 
“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," he added, acknowledging that the secretary stated that the priest had a dog that was "kinda racist."
Talley said that Kowal’s dog could be “somewhat more agitated initially around strangers with darker skin, until the dog gets to know them.” He said that the dog, a German shepherd, had once been threatened by a person who "happened to be African American."
"The cleaning company employees interpreted this incident as a pretext by Fr. Kowal, motivated by a desire not to have an African American housekeeper," he wrote. "This is simply not true. In fact, at his previous assignment as pastor, Fr. Kowal employed an African American housekeeper the entire five years he was pastor."
Weaver told The Memphis Commercial Appeal that she and Allen plan to continue pursuing legal action over the incident. 

"Why wasn't LaShundra given the chance to get to know him?" Weaver asked. "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." 

The women have also alleged that Kowal made no effort to come meet Allen when they arrived for cleaning that day. 

"[Kowal] made no effort to come meet Ms. Allen. He made no effort to correct any statement about his dog being a ‘racist,'" stated a letter sent to the diocese from the women's attorney, according to The Commercial Appeal.