Subway manager fired after apparent racist text message exchange about job applicant

'I don't want those people in our store lol,' manager allegedly said

By Cory McCord - Digital News Editor, Sophia Beausoleil - Reporter

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - A Subway manager was fired after she made an apparent racist remark in a text message about a job applicant.

“It really upset me that people living in this day and age and still think like that and think that it’s OK to verbally be out there like that,” Katelyn Simmons said.

Simmons, who is on drill team and just finished her junior year at Klein High School, wants to get a summer job so she can earn extra money.

She picked up an application for Subway on Sunday and dropped it off the same day at the restaurant located on Champion Forest Drive after her friends encouraged her to apply.

“I picked Subway because my friends work there and it’s a really cool spot,” Simmons said. “I thought it would be fun and chill, and it’s really discouraging for it to go down like that just because of the color of my skin.”

Simmons' friend sent a screen shot of what appears to be a text message conversation between the girl’s friend and the store manager.

In the conversation, the girl's friend sent a message to the manager that said, "Girl brought in her application I'm leaving it on the table for you tomorrow."

The manager then responded, "OK thanks. How she look?"

The friend then replied, "Black girl long dark hair" and then followed that with "shortish."

The manager then responded, "Oh no thanks. I don’t want those people in our store lol."

“I wasn’t raised to be sensitive about those topics, that’s how the world is, we can’t change it, but it cut me differently because it was so direct to me and I was doing something to better my future and it got shot down by something so vain,” Simmons said.

“I’ve taught my daughters to work hard, and that’s what they do, and for someone to reject my daughter for a reason like that, it just frustrated me, because I never taught her to be afraid of that,” the teen’s mother, Timika Simmons, said.

The two said they couldn’t sit back on what the teen experienced. Her mother posted a comment on social media that included a screen shot of what appears to be the text message conversation between the girl's friend and the store manager.

Simmons also included a photo of what appears to be her daughter in a Klein High School drill team outfit.

“My mom has always been dedicated and driven and that’s how I was taught. When I see an issue that is vulgar and very important, it needs to be pushed and needs to be shown, like, this is unacceptable,” said the 17-year-old, who said she also reached out to corporate.

As of Monday afternoon, the post was shared more than 17,000 times and garnered hundreds of comments.

It also caught the attention of Subway.

Here is the response from Subway:

“The manager of this location was immediately terminated for her actions. The Franchise Owner has reached out to the young woman who applied for the position to apologize and encourage her to consider re-applying. The former manager’s actions do not reflect the openness and values shown by Subway Franchise Owners and their staffs. The Subway brand and its independent Franchise Owners are inclusive and welcome all individuals to be part of the Subway restaurant teams.”

The Simmons family said while they believe the company made the right decision, they still think it’s not enough. They believe there needs to also be diversity training.

The family also contests the statement Subway sent to the media because they claim the owner did not call them.

“First, I thought, 'OK,' but then the area manager, not even someone from corporate, or the owner is, but the area manager called me, she just wanted to let me know that the person was fired and wanted to get me to post something saying that they resolved it because she was afraid there would be some sort of violence,” Timika Simmons said. 

The mother and daughter said what allegedly happened does not reflect the community's love and trust. The two said they’re very active and know the community’s heart.

“The people who made (the post) viral are people who live in this community and they look like that -- the manager who she thought she was representing,” Timika Simmons. “So subway owes this to all of us in this Champions area. We are not like that and we don’t want to be branded like that.”

“It hurts me, because I think, 'What if someone else was in my spot and they needed this (job) more than me and this lady just ruined an opportunity and hurt them deeply?' I put my foot out the door and this is how I got rejected. It’s bothered me so much," Katelyn Simmons said. "Psychologically, this is going to be in my head, so imagine if it was someone else."

The teen, who plans on attending Oklahoma University and wants to study international business and minor in engineering, said she doesn’t want people’s skin color to deter them from applying somewhere. She still believes someone’s merit based on their education and character is and should be the deciding factor for a job, but she still feels pain from the alleged incident.  

“It hurts me, because I don’t want people to get that image and get discouraged,” Katelyn Simmons said.

Copyright 2019 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.