Racist Resort Penalized
I was at a major hotel in the USA and an employee made an offensive racist remark. The same thing happened in another hotel owned by the same hotel chain. Their justification was the racist / ethnic slurs were said "for fun". But ethnic/racial discrimination is wrong no matter what the creepy motive the racist person who says it has. I looked into the company's history and realized they had a number of complaints filed against them for racism, including by ex-employees who were subject of racial discrimination. Activists had threatened boycotts if the company didn't change its ways. But bang! The racists did it again, this time to me, and not once but twice, in two properties belonging to the same hotel chain, where I was subject to ethnic discrimination.
I felt pretty bad at the injustice and disrespect. It wasn't a matter of ego -- but making racist slurs is simply no-go.
I wrote to their CEO who was a famous executive at the time (he's dead now), and said, look, this is what happened to me; it's consistent with how you've subjected other people to racism, and I'm going to do something about it, like go to the press and pursue litigation if need be. I meant it but wanted to give them a chance to come clean.
They deeply regretted the incident, assured me they're taking internal steps to prevent it from happening again, and I agreed to an amicable settlement and they paid a fine.
Excerpt from correspondence I sent to the CEO:
Dear Mr. <>
I regret having to bring to your attention a case involving discrimination which has caused me great harm. As a prelude may I say a few things:
1) I believe with proper training the parties involved can correct their behavior so that it does not injure others like me who are in a similar situation.
2) I was under the impression that <> is a world class company run by professionals who realize their fiduciary responsibilities to the shareholders
and the society in general. But the recent events makes me wonder how serious you are about such responsibilities and the promoted corporate culture which allows the actions as described below to occur.
3) I am not an ambulance chaser. I have too much going on in my life (e.g. a successful professional career) to look for lawsuits. But I am a person of principles and when my rights are violated I take things to the end to make sure justice is done.
4) I am person of peace and believe that litigation should be used as an absolute last resort. This is an early lesson I learned from my father who’s been a judge for decades. As such I am taking this step to tell you about the serious problems I encountered not once but twice during my recent visit to your resorts with the hope of your acknowledgment and desire to settle this matter peacefully, and secondly as a helpful tip for you to take an appropriate action internally to correct this problem.
THE FIRST INCIDENT
The first incident occurred on 2 March 2006 when
THE SECOND INCIDENT
The options ahead are wide open ranging from a friendly agreement with you to a full blown lawsuit and media involvement. By instinct my inclination is
to pursue the former and exhaust it before taking any further action / investing in resources, and this is the purpose of this letter.
I you would like to have one of your attorneys or agents contact me or my lawyer and I’d be happy to take things further and bring a speedy end to this
I am holding my name confidential at this point because of security as I am extremely wary of your corporate culture, until I hear the kind of tone you
will address this issue in.
I can be reached via email at: <> and I will disclose my identity or direct you to my lawyer once contacted by you.
As soon as the CEO got that message I got a call from their chief lawyer wanting to talk. We had a conference call and exchanges a series of emails until we reached a settlement agreement when I got confidence that they've learned something and they will take steps to educate their people better about unconscious bias (that was over 10 years before Starbucks decides to put all their employees through unconscious bias training). Case closed.