San Francisco coffee shop owner Eileen Rinaldi fires husband for using N-word
'Words have power - and the word he repeated is undoubtedly racist and harmful,' Eileen Rinaldi said about why she fired her husband John Rinaldi
Eileen Rinaldi, the owner of a San Francisco coffee shop Ritual, made the decision to fire her husband John Rinaldi from a construction job at her company for reportedly repeating a racial slur during a confrontation with a black man.
Eileen, who has operated Ritual Coffee Roasters since 2005, took to social media to announce her husband’s termination in a lengthy post on Tuesday, June 15, 2021, detailing the verbal altercation that her husband John had with a customer over a parking spot outside the company’s warehouse in May.
As per reports, several people of color had heard John using the slur, which led to Eileen making the decision to fire her own husband from the construction project.
"An individual called John a racial epithet," Eileen recalled in the post. "John said he then made the horrible mistake of repeating the racial slur back to the individual, something that he never should have done."
"Words have power - and the word he repeated is undoubtedly racist and harmful," Eileen’s post continued. "To me, it means hate and dehumanization. I am thinking about and gutted by the unimaginable pain, anger, and trauma this word has caused throughout history and in every moment a white person uses it."
John Rinaldi was supervising a freelance construction project at the warehouse at the time. But his wife Eileen has now said that he will no longer work for Ritual in any capacity.
In the meanwhile, John confirmed to the San Francisco Chronicle that he used the slur after the Black man first called him the racial slur. He said that he repeated it but then "immediately" regretted his actions.
"[He] asked me and I quote: 'What’s your name, bitch ass n—–? To which I, unfortunately, replied, 'Yup, that’s my name. Bitch ass n—–,'" he reportedly told the publication in an email. "This was an unfortunate incident over a parking spot. I have apologized for repeating the derogatory word that was shouted at me. A word I never, ever use."
This incident comes a year after the coffee shop's employees reportedly launched an email campaign that raised serious concerns about diversity. This prompted Eileen to commit to "creating a better work environment" for employees of color.
After the May incident, Eileen and managers called up every employee to "let them know that I’m welcoming and wanting to talk" with anyone who had queries or concerns over the incident, the Chronicle reported.
"Staff have shared with me that they are really happy with the results we have seen from our work, especially over the past year," Eileen wrote to the newspaper in an email. In her Instagram post, the coffee shop owner acknowledged her prior "mistakes" but did not elaborate on them. At the same time, she said she's committed to providing customers with an "anti-racist, inclusive and equitable" space for coffee.
"And I embrace that this work has no closure," Eileen’s Instagram post continued. "We need to work on it every month and year and for the life of the business."