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** FILE ** In this July 25, 2006 file photo, T. Boone Pickens, right, with his wife, Madeleine, appear at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on legislation to outlaw slaughtering horses for human consumption.  (AP Photo/Dennis Cook, File)

A ranch owner asked her chef for 'black people food', according to a lawsuit

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Madeleine Pickens, owner of a Nevada ranch and horse sanctuary, asked her chef to cook "black people food" for her customers, as opposed to  "white people food," according to a federal lawsuit.

Armand Appling, who is black, said he was fired in 2014 for complaining about a hostile work environment. He claims Pickens, ex-wife of energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens, frequently espoused racist stereotypes while working at the Mustang Monument Wild Horse Eco-Resort. The "black people food" comment reportedly referred to fried chicken, ribs and cornbread.

It takes a lot to prove these allegations.
U.S. District Judge Miranda Du

Appling said Pickens called another black employee her "bull" or "ox." She also said that employee didn't "look like people we have working at the country club."

Pickens' lawyers insist the comments are not racially-motivated and at worst show a "lack of sensitivity."  The "black people food" comment showed a preference and was therefore not racist.

In many cases, the people fighting to keep African Americans out of these private clubs would use code phrases like 'they do not fit the image.''
Willie Williams

But California attorney Willie Williams disagreed, saying the terms "bull" and "ox" imply slave era-esque ownership, and the implications that black people did not "fit in" was a code for racism.

Some observers weren't satisfied with Pickens' defense.

Should Pickens be punished for her 'black people food' comment?

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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