Ex-employee sues Godfrey Hotel for termination after opposing discriminatory practices

After being fired in lower than a yr at a lodge in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, the previous human assets director is suing the corporate for discrimination and retaliation.

Tom Guajardo, a 50-year-old Hispanic American with greater than greater than 30 years within the human assets business, was employed in March 2023 because the HR director of the Godfrey Hotel in Detroit, which opened final yr. He was terminated in February 2024 after opposing discriminatory practices within the office, in response to the lawsuit.

“Employees need to know they are safe to oppose discriminatory practices in the workplace. They need to know that if they oppose those practices internally or through state and federal agencies … they will not be retaliated against,” Guajardo’s lawyer, Adam Akeel, instructed the Free Press in a press release. “If not even HR personnel, particularly the director of HR, is safe to oppose discrimination in the workplace, then what type of message is that sending to employees?”

The Godfrey Hotel in Detroit’s Corktown photographed on Monday, June 26, 2023. The Godfrey Hotel in Detroit’s Corktown photographed on Monday, June 26, 2023.

The Godfrey Hotel in Detroit’s Corktown photographed on Monday, June 26, 2023.

The Godfrey Hotel in Detroit, which is a part of Oxford Hotels & Resorts LLC, dubs itself as a “luxury lifestyle” boutique lodge in Corktown. Guajardo was accountable for making certain compliance with statutory necessities, together with offering steerage and counseling for staff, together with General Manager Aaron Black, in response to the lawsuit.

However, issues took a flip when Guajardo was knowledgeable of discriminatory remarks made by Black, and when he witnessed the final supervisor participating in “overly discriminatory hiring practices,” preferring to rent much less certified Caucasian males, in response to the lawsuit.

Lawsuit alleges a sequence of discriminatory remarks

Black “insisted on having the final say of all candidates at the hotel,” in response to the grievance. Black rejected candidates for issues outdoors of their expertise and would base his hiring off “physical appearance and would not approve of anyone that had a disability, physical or cognitive.”

“When I would question Mr. Black on these matters, his response was always, ‘Tom, I am the general manager, and I will do whatever I want to do,'” in response to the lawsuit.

On one event, an worker instructed Black of the individual’s want to have extra feminine staff, to which Black responded: “Why would I want to hire more women? Then I’ll have to hire more Blacks and Mexicans too,” in response to the lawsuit.

In one other occasion, Guajardo objected to a comment by one other worker, who mentioned he knew Spanish as a result of he “worked with a bunch of Mexicans” and proceeded to gesture using a donkey whereas uttering “offensive words in Spanish,” however Black disregarded his considerations.

Guajardo later alleged Black was participating in discriminatory pay practices. Guajardo was promised a $105,000 wage, $21,000 quarterly incentive, plus the potential to obtain month-to-month bonuses. In January, he realized 4 staff, together with himself, didn’t obtain their quarterly incentive. After elevating the priority, Black offered “fictitious” and baseless excuses, in response to the lawsuit.

‘Secret incentive funds’

He knowledgeable Black that each one 4 of them who had been excluded are members of legally protected courses and got no damaging suggestions on their performances, and warned him that such conduct falls inside the definition of discrimination by way of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and U.S. Department of Civil Rights.

Guajardo realized Black supplied “secret incentive payments” to a few of the 4 of the excluded staff. Guajardo wasn’t one in every of them. He sought additional readability as to why they had been initially disadvantaged of their incentives and instructed Black he supposed to file complaints with the companies in the event that they did not give you a decision.

Days later, Black suspended Guajardo and initiated a “baseless investigation” into the previous HR director. Following the investigation, Black instituted a “vindictive, retaliatory and baseless fishing expedition” in an try and justify terminating Guajardo, in response to the lawsuit. Guajardo on Feb. 15, in a gathering with Black plus a witness, mentioned he filed discrimination complaints and considered the investigation as retaliation for his opposition to Black’s “discriminatory employment practices.”

Guajardo despatched prolonged correspondence to firm management relating to his considerations over “discriminatory and retaliatory practices.” The following day, he was terminated.

Messages had been left for the Godfrey Hotels and the Detroit lodge location, with out response.

“The Legislature enacted anti-retaliation provisions in the civil rights statutes to protect employees, to let them know they are safe to voice concerns of unethical and illegal employment practices. It is important for employees to know that if they are retaliated against for opposing discrimination, and they pursue the proper legal channels, their employers will be held accountable and they will be compensated for their bravery,” Akeel mentioned.

Dana Afana is the Detroit metropolis corridor reporter for the Free Press. Contact: [email protected]. Follow her: @DanaAfana.

This article initially appeared on Detroit Free Press: Former HR director sues Godfrey Hotel Detroit, alleging discrimination

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