Archive for workplace discrimination

Lawsuit against the Detroit Foundation Hotel

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.

Lawsuit Specifics

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.

Same-Sex Marriage Plans Cause Problems at Work for N.C. Man

Once word spread that Gregory Hannah, an employee of WestRock Services Inc., was to wed his partner in a same-sex marriage in April of 2016, the homophobic comments and behavior began in earnest at the Rutherford County manufacturing plant, claimed Hannah in new court documents.

According to the lawsuit, after learning of Hannah’s decision to marry his partner, Hannah’s boss, Danny Lynch, falsified complaints from other employees, made crude remarks regarding his sexual orientation, wrote Hannah up for poor performance based on unfounded allegations, and allegedly propositioned a truck driver to allow Hannah to perform a sexual act on him.

A company investigation into the matter confirmed one of Hannah’s several claims with an employee of the company confessing they were compelled by Lynch to falsify complaints of sexual harassment against Hannah.

In another allegation of employer misconduct, Hannah was fired by Lynch in May of 2017 after sending an empty box out for shipping. A later investigation found that the parts that were supposed to be in the box went missing during shift hours when Hannah was not scheduled to work.

As a result of the continued mistreatment, Hannah contacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and accused his employer of gender discrimination and employee mistreatment. Earlier this year in March, the federal agency gave Hannah the right to sue.

The lawsuit maintains that Lynch was fired by WestRock Services Inc. for his ill behavior and mistreatment. This was not, however, enough for Hannah who has asked for a jury trial and damages against WestRock. He is also demanding his job back in addition to back pay.

Hannah became a full-time employee of the company and began working at its Forest City plant in 2015, just as the debate over marriage equality for same-sex couples began to heat up around the state and the country.

The company has declined to comment due to a policy that prevents commenting on ongoing legal issues, according to a spokeswoman at the company’s Atlanta headquarters.

The website for WestRock Services Inc. states that “diversity and inclusion” are among company values and claim to foster “an environment where everyone feels valued and respected.”