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A Miami Beach hotel operator has agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit, in which it was charged with firing black Haitian dishwashers who had complained about discrimination and replacing them with mostly Hispanic workers.
The agency said Monday that black Haitian dishwashers working at the Miami Beach SLS Hotel testified their supervising chefs referred to them as “slaves” and reprimanded them for speaking Creole, even amongst themselves, while Hispanic employees could speak Spanish.
The EEOC said the hotel fired the entire dishwashing department, which was made up primarily of black Haitians, when they complained. The hotel then replaced them with a staffing agency workforce of mostly light-skinned Hispanics without providing the fired workers with an opportunity to apply to the staffing agency before their termination, the EEOC said in its statement.
The hotel was charged with violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Under terms of the settlement, $2.5 million will be awarded to 17 black Haitian dishwashers, among other provisions.
“Employers cannot use outsourcing as a proxy for discriminatory practices,” said EEOC Miami District Office Regional Attorney Robert E. Weisberg in a statement. “The EEOC will continue to fight to prevent these discriminatory employment practices, especially against vulnerable workers."
The hotel’s attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.
The EEOC said earlier this month it has reached a $225,000 settlement with a car wash chain for allegedly failing to promote African-Americans in its Birmingham, Alabama-area locations.
Halliburton Energy Services Inc. will pay $280,000 to settle a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit charging it with breaching a mediation settlement agreement.