PrimaDeli sacks staff member over 'racist' remarks

Bakery chain PrimaDeli has apologised, and sacked a staff member who allegedly made racist remarks to a candidate during a job interview.

Facebook user Sarah Carmariah posted on Thursday about going for a job interview on Monday at a "well-known halal bakery" for a position as a cake decorator.

She wrote that during the interview, the head of the department she was applying to made racist remarks towards her and was dismissive of the way she iced a cake.

In a statement yesterday afternoon, PrimaDeli's management said of the incident: "We take a very serious view (of the matter) and have a zero-tolerance policy for such behaviour. This employee has since been dismissed with immediate effect."

PrimaDeli declined to reveal more details about the staff member.

In her post, Ms Sarah said her interview with a human resources representative went well, but things went downhill after she was introduced to the department head.

He told her: "From what I see, and the way you look, and (I'm) not trying to be racist ah, but you Malay, I think you cannot lah."

He also cast aspersions on Malay people, and asked if she spoke Mandarin, saying that that was the language most of his employees used.

"I was stunned and I just froze," Ms Sarah wrote. "I felt my ears getting a little hot, but I didn't want to lose my cool. I was taken aback and didn't quite know how to respond anyway." She then had to ice a cake under the supervision of another staff member, who could not speak English well and did not explain to her how he wanted the cake to look.

When the department head returned, he said: "Aiyoh, cannot lah."

He then started talking to the other employee in Mandarin. At this point, Ms Sarah retrieved her copies of her portfolio, thanked them and left.

In its statement, PrimaDeli said it had "made personal contact to offer our sincere apologies to the candidate in question".

"We would also like to apologise to the wider community with regard to the circumstances. At PrimaDeli, we believe in fair and equal rights for all at our company; we assess performance and suitability based on merit and achievements."

The national anti-discrimination watchdog, Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep), said it is trying to get in touch with all parties involved to establish the facts of the case.

One in six of the 213 complaints lodged with Tafep last year were about race, language or religion.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 30, 2016, with the headline 'PrimaDeli sacks staff member over 'racist' remarks'. Print Edition | Subscribe