Former Eugene restaurant employee speaks out against racism

A former employee of a Eugene restaurant said racism drove away the entire kitchen staff.

Posted: Jul 16, 2018 5:35 PM
Updated: Jul 18, 2018 10:33 AM

EUGENE, Ore. -- A former Sushi Station employee said the restaurant's owners made racist comments last week that led to the entire kitchen staff quitting. 

Emilie Ormsby, who had been working at the restaurant for about three months, said they came under new ownership about two weeks before the incident.

Ormsby said she came to work Monday, July 9, to find a very distraught Hispanic kitchen staff. They told her the owners said they were no longer allowed to speak Spanish and they would not be hiring any more Mexican workers for the “sake of the restaurant.”

The following day, Ormsby said the entire kitchen staff had quit, telling the owners it was because they were told to not speak Spanish. Some of them had worked there for over a decade. Later that week, Ormsby decided to leave the restaurant herself.

"They were a really big part of the kitchen family. The sushi chefs love them, we love them, and to see them just heartbroken like that after being asked not to speak their native language is just disgusting,” Ormsby said.

KEZI 9 News spoke to the owners, who said this is all a misunderstanding. They said they never made the comment about no longer hiring Mexican workers and that the comment about speaking Spanish was a joke.

"We never ever talked like that. Always, we need everybody's help,” said one of the owners, who wished to remain anonymous during the controversy.

The owners did say that they don’t care about the color of an employee’s skin or their place of origin. They care more about their attitude and willingness to work.

Update: After this story aired, two more employees confirmed to KEZI that they heard the comments made.

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