SLS Hotel South Beach To Pay $2.5M In Discrimination Lawsuit Settlement

SLS South Beach has settled a discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The hotel, at 1701 Collins Ave., will pay $2.5 million, and has been ordered to carry out policies, practices and programs aimed at eradicating unlawful employment practices. Los Angeles-based entertainment group SBE operates the facility.

The hotel was accused of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when 17 black Haitian dishwashers were subjected to a hostile work environment and eventually fired because of their race, according to the EEOC.

The group of Haitian kitchen workers, fired en masse on April 9, 2014, provided services including washing dishes; cleaning; and performing other hotel-related tasks as assigned for several of the hotel’s restaurants, including The Bazaar by José Andrés, Katsuya and Hyde Beach. They were eventually replaced with white or Hispanic workers because of their race, according to the complaint.

The complaint said the Haitians were reprimanded by management for speaking Haitian Creole one-on-one to other dishwashers while cleaning. Hispanic workers were allowed to speak Spanish in front of non-Spanish-speaking employees, the complaint said.

When the service elevator stopped, the Haitians were assigned to carry \”heavy items\” up and down the stairs, but Hispanic workers weren\’t assigned those tasks, the complaint said.


“Employers cannot use outsourcing as a proxy for discriminatory practices,” said Robert E. Weisberg, EEOC Miami district regional attorney. “The EEOC will continue to fight to prevent these discriminatory employment practices, especially against vulnerable workers.”

SBE said several workers lost their jobs as the hotel outsourced the entirety of one department. Those workers were offered the opportunity to apply for their jobs with the outsourced company. Many, not all, were of Haitian descent. Some of them, not all, filed a complaint.

The hotel launched an internal investigation and found no evidence of wrongdoing, the company said. The company also said the EEOC “ignored the legitimate business” motive the hotel had for outsourcing the department to account for seasonal fluctuations and budget restraints. The EEOC focused on a handful of comments allegedly made by former chefs, the company said.

There’s no credible evidence that these comments were made, the company said, and they didn’t play a part in the outsourcing. The accused chefs didn’t make the outsourcing decision.


“We are an inclusive company, with employees of over 60 nationalities, including more than 200 employees of Haitian descent in Miami alone,” according to a spokesperson.


Source: SFBJ

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