“This girl called me brainless, worthless and f**king lazy all in the name of training. She mentioned that I don’t deserve to work in the speciality industry and should work in a restaurant chain instead.”
Melissa Wathan had big dreams when she left her job at her previous company and ventured into the Malaysian coffee industry. However, at just the beginning of her journey, her encounter with one of the most reputable coffee companies in the Coffee Specialty Industry was less than favourable.
In October 2020, she met the owner of The Hub Coffee Roaster, Nicholas, at their outlet at Plaza Zurich Damansara. She was honoured to be talking to Nicholas as he gave her the service and comfort despite being somewhat young in the field. Nicholas then offered Melissa a job as she had some background (Melissa is a home-brewer) and they were short of staff. After a few days, she texted him and accepted the job. She clarified that she had zero experience with espresso but he reassured her saying that it’s okay and all that mattered was if she was willing to demonstrate a positive attitude and work.
She then started her training at their OUG outlet and she said the baristas were extremely friendly and accomodating. However, in early February 2021, Melissa was asked to help out at their outlet at Damansara Heights. Even though she was nervous, Melissa couldn’t contain her excitement as it has been her dream to work there.
“At my first day of work, I felt disliked when one of the baristas, Joey, told me that I wasn’t needed there and they have mentioned about this to Nicholas.”
The barista added that they could manage the entire outlet without needing another barista from the OUG outlet to help out. Melissa ignored these comments and resumed her work at that point, she was only working at the Damansara Outlet twice a week. As the weeks passed, the verbal abuse became more and more imminent and Melissa was devastated when she was asked to work at the Damansara outlet four times a week.
Melissa brought this up to the owners and asked them if there were any better options as the girls there didn’t like her. The owners reassured her that they are aware of this and will look into the matter. Melissa assumed that if the girls were confronted, they would be easier to work with or that’s what she thought.
But the opposite happened with Joey calling her worthless and f**king lazy all in the name of training and said that both (Joey and another employee) of them are very direct and sarcastic with anyone they’re training. She even said that she’s not there to babysit anyone even going as far as to say that Melissa didn’t have any passion for coffee.
Melissa’s tipping point
Joey would go on and about how useless her presence was. Melissa’s last straw was when a regular customer came in to ask about an outlet that was opening opposite their store. The customer asked if the owners were Indians.
“Joey said in a disgusted tone, “mana adalah, Indians useless“, and turned to me and said that I didn’t mean you. I felt so offended and degraded.”
The rest of the day, she was continuously yelled at for not being good at the espresso routine but Melissa was silent even though she was demotivated. She knew then her journey with The Hub Coffee Roasters was over and so she texted the owner’s wife saying that she would like to resign. When they spoke on the phone, Melissa said she felt so unheard as the owners kept trying to justify the girls’ behaviour towards her. The owners also added that they needed both the girls there as they knew how to “manage” the outlet. They then requested Melissa to take the next day off and that they will talk to her when she resumes her work in the OUG outlet.
The next day, however, Melissa received a text saying that they’ve accepted her resignation as it was a “better choice” since she was unhappy there. Nicholas’ wife said they were better off as coffee friends instead of colleagues.
“I’m not usually one to share my problems but never in my life I have been so humiliated for wanting to learn. They failed to provide the reassurance and comfort I needed as an employee.”
How did The Hub Coffee Roasters respond to these allegations?
Initially, The Hub Coffee Roasters released a statement saying that they agree that the staff had been rude and disrespectful. They even thanked Melissa for her time with the company. However, they denied the allegations of racism and that they’re a company that cherishes the best talent they can come across.
“The decision to accept Melissa’s resignation was not only after taking to consideration of her will to depart from is but also after learning that her interest is only in specialising in filter coffee brewing.”
In their initial statement, they also mentioned that the staff had been given a last chance and will not be laid off. WORLD OF BUZZ reached out to Nicholas Tay who informed us that he has recalled their initial statement and have released a new statement. Nicholas said the new statement was made after pondering and reflecting on the incident.
“It took me two full days to really put myself in her shoes and I took it upon myself to talk to my friends of other races.”
He now realises that what transpired with Melissa was unbearable. “I pride myself as one who is against racism. You might find that hard to believe, but in my life, I have been going against racist folks, especially those from my own community,” he said.
Nicholas admits that he made a terrible mistake of not being diligent enough in ensuring the best environment for her to grow. Speaking of Joey, he said that despite her overbearing character, she is rather simple-minded when it comes to getting things done, even at the expense of offending people around her.
“From a business point of view, she was extremely efficient but we realised that there are things that must not be tolerated hence we have decided to let Joey go, at least for the time being.”
They added that they have spoken to Joey about this and she is willing to change. They apologised again to Melissa which they said was against the “advice given by many of our business associates who puts the interest of our business above anything else.”
Nicholas ended his statement by hoping that they could arrange a meet-up with Melissa.
“I feel disrespected as a human being. For them to talk about work performance instead of bullying and racism really makes me sad. Sad because they don’t see that as an issue.”
When contacted by WORLD OF BUZZ, Melissa said she’s still a little overwhelmed with the amount of support and love she’s been receiving after her statement. In regards to The Hub trying to reach out to her, she said she’s not answering as she felt disrespected. We also asked how she felt regarding The Hub’s initial statement and she just feels sad as they focused on the wrong issue.
“For them to talk about work performance instead of the bullying and racism really makes me sad. Sad because they don’t see that as an issue.”
She added that she’s tried talking to Nicholas and his wife but she was never given any reassurance. “In fact, they accepted my resignation as an easier way out to not deal with the issue. So anyone in my position would definitely feel disrespected and unheard,” she said.
What do you think of this issue? Let us know in the comments section!
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