Miami Hotel (265539)

Haitian workers who lost their jobs while working for their SLS Hotel in South Beach just became $2.5 million richer. According to the Huffington Post, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reached a $2.5 million settlement with the swank Miami hotel over allegations that Black Haitian dishwashers were fired due to their race and replaced with Latino workers, the agency announced Monday (July 30). The EEOC sued the SLS South Beach, which is owned by the hotel-and-restaurant group SBE, after the hotel outsourced its steward work to an outside staffing company in 2014. Haitian workers who lost their jobs testified that they worked under a racist supervisor, were at times called “slaves” and were reprimanded for speaking Creole. The dishwashers worked at high-end restaurants within the hotel, including the Bazaar by José Andrés, the famed celebrity chef. “Employers cannot use outsourcing as a proxy for discriminatory practices,” Robert Weisburg, the regional attorney in the EEOC’s Miami office, said in a statement. The settlement does not mean that SBE acknowledges any of the allegations were true. Jim Greeley, SBE’s chief compliance officer, said the company did its own investigation of the claims of discrimination and “found no evidence of wrongdoing. We made a decision to settle this litigation in the most amicable way possible for everyone involved. These facts have been pretty thoroughly vetted in our view… We didn’t feel like [the EEOC’s] was a fair characterization.” The $2.5 million settlement will go to 17 Haitian dishwashers. As part of the agreement, managers and human resources officials will also undergo discrimination training at six SBE hotels, and the company will provide the EEOC with data on any firings or layoffs over the next three years. In this case, an entire group of primarily Haitian dishwashers lost their jobs in the outsourcing move, according to the lawsuit. Greeley said the hotel’s direct hires were invited to apply for their positions through the new staffing firm, but the EEOC alleges there was no such invitation. The agency also said workers complained about discrimination by supervisors before they were let go.