This man’s coworker did not intervene when a table of Muslim customers ordered pork dishes. When he asked why, she said that it was racist to assume their religion and dietary restrictions. Is he in the wrong?
His Coworker Was Serving A Table
The server described the situation, “A coworker had a table of six Muslim women, all in hijabs, all lovely women but not fluent in English.”
The Women Ordered Pork Dishes
One of the women ordered for the table and chose some dishes which included pork but were not obvious from the names of the dishes. For example, a western omelet and a Canadian benedict.
The Server Was Concerned
The kitchen prepared the food and he assisted his coworker in taking the plates out. He explained, “I took one look at the women and became a bit concerned for them. I asked them “did your server mention that these items have pork?””
The Meals Were Returned To The Kitchen
The women translated the question and one of the women said that they didn’t know that the dishes included pork. He added, “We had to return the food to the kitchen and the server started over with the ordering process.”
He Confronted His Coworker
The server explained, “Later, I asked my coworker why she didn’t give the women a heads-up. Personally, this has happened frequently: if someone isn’t fluent in English and doesn’t recognize the dozens of names we have for pork products, it’s easy for them to miss it.”
The Server Usually Asks
If the guests are obviously Muslim (with hijabs being a good indicator), he confirms if they are okay with pork in the dish. He added, “Zero times has it been okay.”
She Didn’t Want To Be Racist
His coworker said she’d feel racist and like she was racially profiling her tables if she specifically asked customers if they are okay with pork. He suggested that she ask if they have food allergies or restrictions and the coworker said that it would still be racist if she asked just because of the hijab.
He Shared His Perspective
The server explained, “Honestly, I’m in customer service. It is my job to read a table and calibrate my efforts to provide maximum enjoyment. I honestly don’t think interpreting a hijab as a Muslim identifier and then advising Muslim customers about pork in our menu items is being racist: I think it’s being aware, culturally sensitive, and professional/good at my job.”
Is He In The Wrong?
Is he wrong to assume the religions and dietary restrictions of customers? Should he have handled the situation with his coworker differently?
He Turned To The Internet For Advice
Most users supported his point of view. One commenter said, “Most Muslims would appreciate exactly what you are doing. Your suggestions of asking if customers have dietary restrictions/allergies is perfect. How is it any different than someone who can’t have gluten or has a peanut allergy?”
One User Commented
“Co-worker is confusing visible religious dress with skin color as a sign of religion. If they just ask everyone, there’s no problem with profiling, which will be good if a Muslim person who doesn’t look like the stereotype shows up to eat.”
Someone Gave Their Opinion
“It’s not racist to recognize that a particular group is likely to have food objections. If I saw a person in a PETA shirt, I’d warn them about meat in their food. A Hijab isn’t all that different in this case. You’re trying to help them avoid things that they also try to avoid.”
Another Commenter Shared Their Perspective
“You’re fine in asking, your coworker is fine in not asking. It’s up to the customer to take care of their own dietary needs, and ask.”
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