Trump Hotel in D.C. Discriminates, Black Servers Say

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By Jon Steingart

The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., discriminates against black employees who work in one of its signature restaurants, according to a complaint filed Sept. 20 by one current and two former employees ( Hill v. Trump Old Post Office LLC , D.C. Super. Ct., case number not available, complaint filed 9/20/17 ).

White waiters and bartenders were assigned to more lucrative dinner shifts at steakhouse BLT Prime, while black employees were scheduled for less fruitful breakfast and lunch shifts, black current and former employees say in a complaint filed in the District of Columbia Superior Court. In addition, the workers say a black server who spilled a cocktail on a guest was terminated immediately, but a white server who spilled wine on a guest didn’t receive the same punishment.

The hotel, operated by Trump Old Post Office LLC, is a joint employer of workers in its restaurants, the complaint says. The hotel is liable for discrimination at BLT Prime because it exerts control over the restaurant’s operations and personnel, the employees say. BLT Prime isn’t named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

The workers are also presenting claims against BLT before an arbitrator because they signed an arbitration agreement with the restaurant, their lawyer, A.J. Dhali with Dhali PLLC in Washington, told Bloomberg BNA Sept. 21. They filed a lawsuit in court against the hotel because they didn’t sign an arbitration agreement with the hotel, he said.

“The allegations directed at Trump International Hotel, Washington D.C. and its managers are utterly baseless,” a spokesperson for the hotel said in a Sept. 21 email to Bloomberg BNA. “Most notably, the Hotel never employed these individuals. Rather, the plaintiffs worked for a third-party restaurant company that is solely responsible for the direction, supervision, and management of its own employees.”

“In short, this lawsuit appears to be nothing more than a desperate, politically-motivated publicity stunt,” the spokesperson said. “We look forward to litigating this matter.”

The Trump hotel is owned by the Trump Organization.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jon Steingart in Washington at jsteingart@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com

For More Information

Text of the complaint is available at http://src.bna.com/sKR.

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