‘White man is right,’ says manager of Gulf resort that won’t hire black people

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The former maintenance manager of an Indian Rocks Beach resort is suing his former employer after he says the CEO and general manager chastised him for hiring a black employee.

According to a complaint filed in the Circuit Court of Pinellas-Pasco, Jacob Hood was hired as maintenance operations manager at Harbor resort in April 2018. Trouble started the following September when he took time off for a workers’ compensation claim.

Harborside is part of the New Hotel Collectionwhich also operates the Cordoba hostel in downtown Saint Petersburg, new hotel on the Indian coasts and central hotel in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

The owners of Harborside said in a statement to Florida Politics that this case “is baseless and not based in fact. The employee in question was terminated for cause, and the alleged management statements described in the complaint are fabricated, plain and simple.

Continued: “A plaintiff can allege anything by filing a lawsuit, but that doesn’t mean the allegations are necessarily true.”

What Hood alleges is that his bosses at Harborside did not believe his injury was legitimate and “disliked (his) … injury, receipt of workers’ compensation benefits and work restrictions,” according to the lawsuit.

These work restrictions caused Hood to hire a maintenance technician. It is, he says, when the CEO Justin Alex Hodges and general manager Dustin Shelton told him “these are not the kind of people” they want to work in their hotel because “they don’t have the right look”.

All three men are white, but Hood is married to a black woman. The lawsuit goes on to say that Shelton and Hodges told him he had a “soft spot for those people.”

But Hood told the court that Shelton didn’t stop there. The lawsuit says Shelton continued to cause tension by making increasingly derogatory comments about black people and telling Hood he wasn’t allowed to hire black people, saying “White is right.”

“Dustin Shelton approached plaintiff and made derogatory comments about African Americans,” the lawsuit states. “Like ‘ghetto, hood rat, trash, thug, scum and southern St. Petersburg,’ which caused tension between the plaintiff and the general manager.”

Hood says he tried to report the behavior but was ignored and no corrective action was taken. He accuses station management of ridiculing him for his injury and hiring a black person and scrutinizing his work too much to find or create a reason to fire him.

The hotel owner insists he does not discriminate in his hiring practices.

“20% of our team members are black and, in total, minorities make up 27% of our team. The suggestion that the company would not want to hire a diverse staff is ridiculous and not based on fact.

Hood is suing for racial discrimination and discrimination against his injury. The lawsuit does not mention a specific amount, but says Hood is seeking more than $100,000.

Hood could not be reached for comment.


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