Black employees at an IKEA store in Atlanta declined to show up to work after the manager tried to honor Juneteenth by presenting a menu that included fried chicken, watermelon, mac and cheese and collard greens.
The employees described the move as "racially insensitive" and urged management "to do more to educate themselves on Black culture," CBS News reported.
"You cannot say serving watermelon on Juneteenth is a soul food menu when you don't even know the history -- they used to feed slaves watermelon during the slavery time," one employee said. "It caused a lot of people to be upset. People actually wanted to quit. People weren't coming back to work."
In a statement to CBS46, IKEA said "the meal was intended to be served to co-workers as an internal celebration, not customers."
The company first presented the menu in an email sent to employees on Friday.
“To honor the perseverance of Black Americans and acknowledge the progress yet to be made, we observe Juneteenth on Saturday, June 19, 2021,” the company said in the email obtained by TMZ. “Look out for a special menu on Saturday which will include: fried chicken, watermelon, mac n cheese, potato salad, collard greens, candied yams.”
The manager responded in another email after 33 people called out from work.
"I truly apologize if the menu came off as subjective," the manager said. "It was created with the best of intentions by a few of our coworkers who believed they were representing their culture and tradition with these foods of celebration."
According to the employees, however, the menu was created without any input from Black employees.
"None of the coworkers who sat down to create the menu -- nobody was Black," one employee said.
The company continues to assert that "there were Black co-workers involved in the creation of the menu."
"Out of respect for their privacy, we cannot go into more detail, and we take this as an important learning and shared responsibility," IKEA stated.
While the menu was later adjusted, the employees said that didn't solve the problem.
"They just delayed the menu by a day, thinking that everybody who was upset stayed home on Juneteenth and wouldn't notice on Sunday, which just added insult to injury," one person said.
Collard greens, cornbread, mashed potatoes and meatloaf were still included on the revised menu.
"I'm just frankly disappointed in the learning process -- you shouldn't learn after you have insulted all of your Black employees," one customer said.