Once a fire station and now one of downtown’s trendiest nightspots, the Detroit Foundation Hotel, and The Apparatus Room bar has been sanctioned with a federal lawsuit citing a variety of racist behavior, such as banning black employees from the anniversary party because they should not “mix in with our VIP guests,” are “not polished” and are “dirty.”
These racist behaviors are being enforced by upper management. The lawsuit was filed by a former human resource coordination who had an overview of these racist actions. Twana Simmons is the plaintiff who claims she repeatedly elevated racist actions faced by black employees to management, but they made excuses for the behavior, ignored the complaints or told her to stop making these judgments since, “…no one here is racist.”
Hired in 2017 when the hotel opened, Simmons was fired during the summer of 2018 for using the personally using the hotel podcast studio without permission. Simmons claims she had permission and was fired because of the complaints.
The lawsuit states the following specific behavior that was witnessed by Simmons:
• January 2018 – Simmons participated in a meeting where high-level managers looked up photographs of job applicants and rejected black employees stating that “…they were way too dark.”
• January 2018 – At the same meeting, Simmons overheard the hiring manager state that she wanted a “white brunette.”
• February 2018 – In another meeting, Simmons heard on manager note that they, “…did not want the employees of the hotel to attend the party because they were ‘not polished, and they are dirty’ and did not want them to ‘mix in with our VIP guests.’”
• May 2018 – Simmons requested that black employees attend a Chicago business trip but the human resource director, “…refused to consider any black employees for the venture.”
In response to these allegations, the Detroit foundation Hotel issued the following statement:
“Management takes these accusations seriously. The Foundation Hotel is an equal opportunity employer who works to create a dynamic environment for all employees and guests. While in active litigation, we deny the allegations…”
Simmons began working for the hotel in April 2017 as a reservations agent and was eventually promoted to Human Resources Coordinator in May 2017. In the lawsuit details, it was noted that Simmons regularly complained to her boss about racist behavior and was told to keep quiet.