By NAN Contributor
News Americas, MIAMI, FL, Thurs. April 20, 2017: A luxury hotel in South Beach, Miami has been slapped with a lawsuit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for discriminating against black Haitian workers and calling them “slaves.” Here are 8 things you should know about the lawsuit and the hotel:
1: The EEOC says managers and chefs at the oceanfront SLS South Beach hotel in Miami called black Haitian dishwashers disparaging names, including “f—–g Haitians” and referred to them as “slaves.”
2: The hotel is also accused of violating US federal law by firing black Haitian dishwashers because of their race, color and national origin the EEOC charged in a lawsuit this week.
3: SLS Hotel South Beach allegedly terminated all the Black Haitian steward/ dishwashers and replaced them with light-skinned Hispanics. The discrimination culminated with a mass termination effort on April 9, 2014, the suit said. That day, Haitian workers who were not scheduled for duty, were allegedly told the hotel needed extra staff because of a “big party” or that the kitchen was going to be “extremely busy,” the suit claims. Instead, each was fired. Some of the terminated employees saw their replacements – largely light-skinned Hispanics – performing their job duties as they exited the termination meeting and were escorted from the hotel by security personnel.
4: SLS Hotel South Beach is also accused of choosing to outsource the steward/dishwasher positions without providing the black Haitian employees an opportunity to apply to the staffing agency before their termination. The terminations, per the complaint, were not performance-based.
5: The EEOC’s complaint indicates that their termination was not the first time black Haitian employees were treated differently than Hispanic employees. The EEOC said that black Haitian employees were told not to speak Creole, even amongst themselves, while Hispanic employees were allowed to speak Spanish.
6: The EEOC also said that black Haitian dishwashers were asked to carry heavy items up and down the 13-floor hotel and perform other difficult tasks, but the Hispanics were spared these tough assignments.
7: The four plus star 140-room SLS South Beach is located at 1701 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139 and rates go for over USD 300 per night. It was designed by Philippe Starck, who collaborated with Bahamas-roots rocker Lenny Kravitz. James L. Greeley, chief legal officer for the hospitality company said in a statement that they do not believe they “…have done anything wrong and will fully defend our company against any false claims.”
8: Discrimination on the basis of race, color, and/or national origin discrimination violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “Employers should not be able to avoid liability by using a staffing agency to discriminate when it cannot lawfully do so on its own,” said the regional attorney for the EEOC’s Miami District Office, Robert E. Weisberg. “Consistent with the agency’s strategic enforcement goals, the EEOC will be vigilant in ensuring employment discrimination is not hidden behind increasingly complex business relationships, including the outsourcing concept.”
Michael Farrell, district director for the EEOC’s Miami District Office, added, “In serving this community, the Miami District Office is mindful of the diverse workforce in all facets of the service, hospitality and tourism sectors and will protect workers facing discrimination in these important Florida industries.”