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Amelie’s French Bakery says it will review “overall work conditions”

Charlotte-based Amelie’s French Bakery posted a message on Facebook Thursday morning, saying it is taking steps to review its “overall work conditions” after a former employee made his resignation letter public.

In its posting, signed by owner Lynn St. Laurent, Amelie’s said it has retained an outside source “to locate an independent third party who will be tasked with reviewing all policies and procedures” regarding hiring, promotion procedures and fair treatment of employees.

The bakery also said it will reach out to Justin Miller, former manager of Amelie’s production kitchen, to suggest a private meeting with St. Laurent and a facilitator.

Miller posted his resignation letter Friday on Facebook. He alleged that employees are asked to work off the clock and that others don’t get overtime pay when they should. He said he has filed a “wage theft complaint” with the U.S. Department of Labor.

“We share in Justin’s passion for activism and want to work to resolve this misunderstanding and come together behind the cause we share,” according to St. Laurent’s posting.

“Should an inquiry into our employment practices be launched by the U.S. Department of Labor, we will cooperate fully and will do so with a commitment to total transparency.”

On Thursday, Miller said he would like to talk to St. Laurent, too.

“I’m going to talk to a few people today, and I would like to reach out to her as well. I would like to also have somebody of my choosing as a third party to sit down …” Miller said.

“From the beginning, I’ve been encouraging customers not to boycott, because I felt very confident that they would come to an understanding and do the right thing and take care of their employees a little better,” he said. “… I don’t think putting 120-something people out of work is a way to handle this.”

Amelie’s found itself in the middle of a social media storm last weekend when it went on Facebook to deny Miller’s accusations and defend its practices.

But the wording of the original response, posted to the company’s Facebook page, created controversy. “We intentionally hire people who are not otherwise employable, and we have promoted many of those people.”

That phrase, “who are not otherwise employable” generated outrage and calls to boycott the bakery.

The company then deleted the Facebook post, which generated even more anger.

The company then sent out another message, apologizing, clarifying, and reaffirming company priorities. But the damage was done.

In St. Laurent’s posting on Thursday, the bakery said it also has set up an anonymous online suggestion box for employees.

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