Lawsuit Filed Against Cruise Line Alleges Wrongful Termination
A lawsuit has been filed against the Ritz-Carlton cruise line after several workers complained of being terminated after being asked by their supervisors to sound more British on the phones. Those who complained about having to sound British or those who could not bring themselves to sound British enough were terminated. They have since filed a lawsuit against the Ritz-Carlton cruise line for wrongful termination and civil rights abuses. The workers, who were located in Miami, were all Americans.
One of the workers was a seasoned salesman who immigrated to this company from Venezuela. He speaks with a Hispanic accent since Spanish is his native language. He claims his supervisors demanded that he sound more British to which he replied he could not. The sales rep had a glistening history of sales records for the cruise industry and had left a job doing sales elsewhere to join Ritz-Carlton’s fledgling cruise line.
Because Ritz-Carlton is hoity-toity, management didn’t think the Miami sales team’s Hispanic accents meshed well with their lavish brand. However, the workers were insulted by the request and many refused to comply. In response, Ritz-Carlton fired several workers. The plaintiff took medical leave citing a hostile work environment, panic attacks, and anxiety.
What does Ritz-Carlton say?
Ritz-Carlton claims that the employees revolted after they implemented a new, longer sales script. So you see, it had nothing to do with forcing a Hispanic staff member to sound like a cast member of Downton Abbey. Everybody got mad because the script was too long. And then the pandemic hit, so there were layoffs.
Unfortunately for the Ritz-Carlton, they will have to prove why some of the staffers with the highest sales totals were discharged while other sales reps, with lesser numbers, were retained. The biggest problem for the Ritz-Carlton is that the worker was Jamaican, was an astounding saleswoman, and managed to log $345,000 in sales in October of 2020, during the height of the pandemic. One of her supervisors asked the woman if she “lived in a ghetto” according to the complaint. The Ritz-Carlton denies these allegations and maintains that firings were based on performance issues.
The Ritz-Carlton’s argument doesn’t pass the smell test, but the plaintiffs have a long way to go before they’re reinstated in their positions or getting compensation for retaliation. Much will come down to whether or not the court considers an “accent” an immutable characteristic like skin color or a changeable characteristic like hairstyle. The Supreme Court has interpreted Civil Rights legislation to only pertain to “immutable” characteristics. Accents are an untested characteristic when it comes to filing a lawsuit on the grounds of cultural discrimination.
Talk to a Miami Maritime Lawyer Today
Miami admiralty & maritime lawyer Michael F. Guilford represents the interests of crew members in employment disputes with their companies. Call today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.