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Blacks and Latinos claim job bias at hotel

They say racist bosses at the Ritz-Carlton in Pasadena withheld promotions.

August 09, 2007|Ashraf Khalil | Times Staff Writer

A group of black and Latino employees Wednesday accused management of the Ritz-Carlton, Huntington Hotel & Spa in Pasadena of discrimination, saying workers experienced humiliating racial comments and repeatedly were passed over for promotions.

The employees said they filed a complaint with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

"This is the first time we've seen a case of discrimination this egregious," said Jasleen Kohli, an attorney for UNITE HERE!, a union that represents hotel workers. Blacks and Latinos think "that they just can't move up."

Dimetris Jones, 21, said he worked for more than a year as a server and at the hotel's poolside bar but says he was repeatedly rejected for promotions without reason. He also said his superiors routinely made racially insensitive remarks to him. Jones said a supervisor once told him to make an iced coffee drink "dark like you."

Kohli said the complaint to the state employment and housing agency is a formality that paves the way for a civil suit against the hotel.

The hotel is managed by the Ritz-Carlton company but is owned by the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Assn., which manages the pension funds of county workers.

Vivian Deuschl, a spokeswoman for Ritz-Carlton, said the complaint "comes as a surprise, given the diversity of our management staff at the hotel. . . . We take any complaint of this nature seriously and intend to investigate it promptly."

ashraf.khalil@latimes.com

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