TIME Nevada

Chef Says Dude Ranch Owner Asked Him to Cook ‘Black People Food’

A chef said she requested corn bread, BBQ ribs, and fried chicken

Madeleine Pickens, the ex-wife of Oklahoma energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens, allegedly discriminated against black employees and requested “black people food” to be served at her Nevada dude ranch, according to a federal racial discrimination lawsuit.

Chef Armand Appling alleges that Pickens requested “black people food” like fried chicken, corn bread, and BBQ ribs for the guests paying nearly $2,000 a night to stay at her Mustang Monument Wild Horse Eco-Resort, according to the Associated Press. Appling says comments like these were common at the 900-square mile ranch.

Appling says Pickens also made other racially charged comments, including calling one black kitchen staffer a “bull” or “ox” and instructing him to fire another who had “too much personality.” He alleges she told him those staffers didn’t “look like people we have working at the country club” or “fit the image” she wanted for the ranch.

Pickens recruited Appling from the country club she owns in Southern California but he alleges she fired him after he complained about a hostile work environment.

Pickens’ lawyers argue that the comments were rude but not racist, and described them as a “non-racial personality conflict and amount to discourtesy, rudeness or lack of sensitivity.”

U.S. District Judge Miranda Du said in a recent hearing that she had not yet seen definitive proof of racial bias, but gave Appling’s team until January 13 to refile an amended lawsuit.

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