The SLS Hotel in Miami Beach’s South Beach violated federal law by firing black Haitian dishwashers because of their race, color and national origin, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit last week.
The EEOC’s complaint alleged that SLS Hotel South Beach terminated all the Black Haitian steward/ dishwashers and that they were replaced with light-skinned Hispanics. SLS Hotel South Beach chose 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.
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.
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. The EEOC also said that black Haitian dishwashers were asked to carry heavy items and perform other difficult tasks, but the Hispanics were spared these tough assignments.
Discrimination on the basis of race, color, and/or national origin discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit against SLS Hotel South Beach (and affiliated entities) (Case No.1:17-cv-21446) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks monetary and injunctive relief to address the discriminatory practices.
“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.”
Full article available at: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/4-18-17.cfm