A US priest has blamed his dog for the decision to bar a black woman from cleaning his home.

Father Jacek Kowal, of the Catholic Church of the Incarnation in Memphis, is at the centre of accusations of racism after church staff barred black woman LaShundra Allen from cleaning his home.

Allen was due to replace the last cleaner, a white woman, and was trying to clean Kowal's home when she was blocked by church staff.

Allen told Fox13: "They were just like, 'Well, I'm not really sure how to say this', kind of like in a joking way, 'but Father Jacek doesn't want black people cleaning the house because his dog is racist'.

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"You're supposed to be godly. God doesn't see colour."

An investigation by the Catholic Diocese of Memphis has found that "claims of racial bias and discrimination are unfounded", with Bishop David Talley saying that Kowal's dog was "somewhat more agitated initially around strangers with darker skin, until the dog gets to know them".

Kowal told Fox13 that when his german shepherd was younger it "had a bad experience with a stranger who happened to be African American".

Allen is pursuing legal action against the diocese, saying: "They were acting like I was just supposed to be okay with it. Joking around with it, and I'm just like, 'That's not okay. You just told me you didn't want me in your house because I'm coloured skinned'."