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SLS Hotel Settles Race, Color and National Origin Lawsuit with EEOC for $2.5M

2018-07-30

Suit alleged that Hispanics were treated more favorably than Haitians

The SLS Hotel, located in Miami Beach, Florida, agreed to pay $2.5 million and provide other relief to settle a discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC in April 2017.  In the hotel, there were three restaurants, including The Bazaar by José Andrés, Katsuya, and Hyde Beach. 

EEOC alleged that the Hotel fired all of its black Haitian dishwashers because of their race, color and national origin and replaced them with light-skinned Hispanics.  When the black Haitian dishwashers complained to human resources about the discrimination and their “racist” supervisor, the Hotel fired the entire dishwashing department.  SLS decided to outsource the steward/dishwasher positions without providing the black Haitian employees an opportunity to apply for the openings with the staffing agency before their termination.  SLS admitted that the terminations were not performance-based. 

The lawsuit also alleges that the Haitian employees were told not to speak Creole, even amongst themselves, while Hispanic employees were allowed to speak Spanish.  Haitian employees were asked to carry heavy items and perform other difficult assignments but the Hispanics were spared these tougher tasks.  Lastly, EEOC said that managers and chefs called the Haitian dishwashers disparaging names, including “f-----g Haitians” and referred to them as “slaves.”
The $2.5 million settlement will be awarded to 17 black Haitian dishwashers. The SLS also agreed to provide comprehensive training for human resources officials, management personnel and hourly employees throughout six of the company’s south Florida hotels.  An independent consent decree monitor will attend all training sessions and provide reports to the EEOC.  SLS will also provide EEOC with data on any terminations, layoffs or involuntary separations that occur over the three-year period of the decree.

The foregoing has been prepared for the general information of clients and friends of Workplace Dynamics LLC and is not being represented as being all-inclusive or complete. It has been abridged from legislation, administrative ruling, agency directives, and other information provided by the government. It is not meant to provide legal advice with respect to any specific matter and should not be acted upon without professional counsel.