Lawsuit Against SLS South Beach Hotel Claims Haitian Workers Were Called Slaves
“Let those slaves do the work.” That was the alleged response from a manager at the SLS South Beach hotel after a group of black Haitian workers asked management to fix a broken service elevator, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday against the hotel.
According to the suit, filed in U.S. district court in Miami by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a group of at least 15 Haitian workers were repeatedly discriminated against by hotel management on the basis of their race, national origin or skin color, before being fired from the hotel in 2014.
The suit claims that the workers, all of them dishwashers or stewards, were treated differently than Hispanic workers with similar duties. The suit was first reported by Will Evans from Reveal of the Center for Investigative Reporting.
A group of at least 15 Haitian workers were repeatedly discriminated against by hotel management on the basis of their race, national origin or skin color, before being fired from the hotel in 2014, according to the lawsuit.
In the case of the service elevator, the suit said that Haitian workers were forced to carry heavy items up and down the stairs of the 13-floor hotel, while Hispanic workers were not asked to perform those duties.
Haitian workers also were allegedly assigned to cleaning jobs that typically required two or three workers to complete. The workers were specifically told by managers, supervisors and chefs not to speak Creole, even to each other, while Hispanic workers were not reprimanded for speaking Spanish at work, the suit said. When the Haitian workers complained about the language practices, the hotel’s human resources department did nothing to correct the issue, according to the complaint.
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