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SLS Hotels to pay $2.5M for discrimination of Haitian workers in Miami

By Ray Downs
SLS Hotels to pay $2.5M for discrimination of Haitian workers in Miami
This week, the EEOC announced a $2.5 million settlement against SLS Hotels in Miami Beach for discriminating against 17 Haitian dishwashers. File Photo by Erik S. Lesser/EPA-EFE

July 31 (UPI) -- The SLS luxury hotel chain has been ordered to pay a $2.5 million settlement for discriminating against Haitian dishwashers at its hotel in Miami, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced this week.

The settlement will be awarded to 17 black Haitian dishwashers at the South Beach hotel who were wrongfully terminated because of their race and national origin, the EEOC said.

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The dishwashers said before they were fired, they were subjected to abuse ranging from being forbidden to speak their native Creole, while Hispanic co-workers were allowed to speak Spanish, to being required to carry heavy items up several floors while being referred to as "slaves" by their Hispanic supervisor.

When the dishwashers complained about their treatment, they were terminated and replaced by a staff of "made up of almost entirely of white and/or Hispanic workers," their lawsuit stated.

In addition to paying $2.5 million, the SLS Hotel chain will provide re-training for human resource officials, management personnel and hourly employees at its South Florida six hotels for the next three years. The training sessions will be monitored by an independent consent decree monitor who will provide comprehensive reports to the EEOC.

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Data on terminations and layoffs over the next three years will also be submitted to the EEOC.

"EEOC will continue to protect workers in the hospitality industry, including the black Haitian community that makes up a significant part of the South Florida workforce," said Michael Farrell, district director for the EEOC's Miami office.

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