Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Black Employees of Restaurant Inside Trump’s DC Hotel Allege Racial Discrimination

(Photo by Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)
Irving Smith, Jr., left, and Dominique Hill, are suing the Trump Organization and hotel’s managing director for $14.5 million. (Photo by Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

*A restaurant inside of Donald Trump’s hotel in Washington D.C. has been hit with a $14.5 million lawsuit for allegedly discriminating against its African American employees, reports the The Washington Post.

Two former workers (Dominique Hill and JaNette Sturdivant) and a current employee (Irving Smith Jr.) filed their civil lawsuit Wednesday morning in D.C. Superior Court regarding their treatment at BLT Prime, a steak house inside of the Trump International Hotel on 1100 Pennsylvania Ave NW.

The lawsuit states “the Trump Organization and hotel managing director Mickael Damelincourt saw to it that the restaurant routinely steered black employees to less lucrative shifts and subjected them to discriminatory behavior by other staff and by guests.”

Smith says he worked as a BLT server until he was demoted to an assistant server.

“They started hiring all these people and instead of putting them on day shifts they was giving them night shifts and keeping us on day shift,” Smith told The Washington Post. “Next thing I know, within the month all the black people were on the day shift.”

Smith also alleged that one of his co-workers used racial slurs after Trump’s election, and when he complained to management, nothing was done about it.

“He used to say ‘This is white America time, you need to get used to it, and if you don’t get used to it you should go work somewhere else,’” Smith alleged. “I would go to work crying and ask God why are you doing this? We were so comfortable and gave up everything to go to this place. And then to be treated like this.”

Hill claims the BLT opened with at least 15 black employees, but now only four are left after leaving over racial discrimination.

In a statement, the Trump Organization, which runs the hotel, called the allegations “utterly baseless,” particularly because “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. We look forward to litigating this matter,” said Amanda Miller, a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization, in a statement.

ESquared Hospitality, which operates the restaurant, said it “wholeheartedly” disputed the allegations and that the employees “did not previously voice or file complaints through any of the proper channels.”

“Had they done so, BLT Prime would have immediately taken the alleged complaints seriously and investigated them to the fullest extent and would have taken appropriate action where warranted,” the company said.

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