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Miami Hotel Settles $2.5 Million Workplace Discrimination and Lawsuit

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On July 30th, 2018, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that SLS Hotel, a luxury hotel with locations in both Downtown Miami and on South Beach, has agreed to settle a racial discrimination claim for $2.5 million.

According to the allegations raised in the complaint against the company, SLS hotel management discriminated against Haitian workers on the basis of their race, color, and national origin. In addition, the workers alleged that the company’s human resources department failed to put a stop to the discriminatory practices, and that they were eventually all terminated.

Allegations of Workplace Discrimination  

A group of Haitian dishwashers brought an employment law claim alleging that the SLS hotel management wrongfully terminated them and replaced them with a workforce made up of almost exclusively light-skinned Hispanic workers. Notably, 17 black Haitian dishwashers were covered by the employment discrimination lawsuit. Several of the workers testified that members of the management referred to them as ‘slaves’ and that management prevented them from speaking Creole while on the job, despite the fact that Spanish was allowed in the workplace.

One of the key points raised in the discrimination complaint was the fact that these Haitian dishwashers made an effort to bring their issue to the company’s human resources department. They complained about the racist treatment that they were receiving from their supervisors. However, instead of taking any action to rectify the problem, SLS Hotel removed the entire dishwashing crew. They terminated all employees and brought in a staffing agency to replace them. Further, SLS Hotel declined to provide the Haitians with an opportunity to apply with the staffing firm to keep their previous jobs.

Employees Deserve a Fair Workplace that Is Free From Discrimination or Retaliation  

American employers have considerable discretion to hire their own staff. However, businesses cannot make employment decisions based on illegal reasons. No employee should be subject to adverse treatment because of their race, color, or national origin. On this issue, workers are protected by both federal law and state law. Notably, the alleged conduct in this case violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

It should also be noted that employees have the legal right to complain about discrimination. Florida employers are prohibited from taking any adverse employment action against an employee simply because that worker complained about discriminatory practices or harassment. This is known as retaliation, and it is a very serious employment law violation. While employers certainly have the right to outsource positions, they cannot do so as a proxy to discriminate against or retaliate against workers. Companies that unlawfully retaliate against workers could face very serious civil penalties.

Contact Our Florida Employment Discrimination Lawyer Today

At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our employment lawyers have extensive experience handling the full range of discrimination claims. Our legal team represents both employers and employees. No matter the specific circumstances of your case, we can protect your rights. For immediate legal guidance, please call us at 561-291-8298 (West Palm Beach) or at 305-985-5281 (Miami).

Resources:

eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/titlevii.cfm

eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/7-30-18.cfm

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