Photo: Tommy Harpaz
Aroma branch on Shocken Street
Photo: Tommy Harpaz

Aroma accused of racism again

Former café chain worker says three days before she was fired, shift manager told her 'black Yemenites are not as smart as Ashkenazim'

A former worker at the Aroma Tel Aviv café chain is accusing one of the company's shift managers of racism, saying she was insulted for being of Yemenite descent. The woman has filed a lawsuit against the company with the Tel Aviv Small Claims Court.


This is not the first time Aroma has been accused of racism. In November 2006, one of the café chain's owners was forced to compensate a woman of Yemenite descent after referring to her as "a black stain, inferior and stupid." The worker, Malka Shalev, filed a libel suit against the chain. The court ruled in favor of her and ordered Aroma to pay her come NIS 100,000 ($26,270) in damages.


The recent lawsuit was filed by Michal Azani, 26, of Tel Aviv, who began working at the kitchen of an Aroma branch in southern Tel Aviv last month.


"On my very first day at work, I was told by the shift manager to join one of the kitchen workers who would teach me the job," Azani told the Yedioth Tel Aviv weekly.


"The shift manager then muttered towards me, 'All the Yemenites, these niggers, are not as good and not as smart as the Ashkenazim," she said, adding that she was insulted.


"At that moment, all I wanted to do was to leave that place as soon as possible, but I had no choice and I stayed despite the humiliation, because I needed the money," she added.


After only three days on the job, Azani was fired. She was not told the reason for the decision to dismiss her.


"On Saturday evening, I called the café to inquire about my shifts. The worker who answered the phone was surprised to her from me. She thought that I knew I was fired. She only agreed to tell me that they don't want me to work there anymore," Azani claims.

In her lawsuit, she demands NIS 5,000 ($1,315) in compensation. Azani says she should be compensated for distress, as "these were harsh and very insulting comments directed at me."


The Aroma Tel Aviv chain has yet to file a statement of defense.


Noam Babila, who manages the Aroma branch on Shocken Street, said in response: "An inquiry held with two shift managers in our branch reveals that they do not recall such an incident with the worker who filed the suit.


"There are many workers of Mizrachi descent employed in our branch, including the shift managers. The attempt by this worker, who was fired after only three shifts, to drag the Aroma chain into a lawsuit is irresponsible and cowardly."


פרסום ראשון: 11.25.09, 14:00
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