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Naples Waiter Sues Ritz-Carlton, Claims Discrimination

NAPLES, Fla. - A Haitian-born food server at The Ritz-Carlton's beach resort in Naples was told March 12 he wouldn't be needed that day because he is black and speaks with an accent, according to a federal lawsuit filed this week.

Tranchant, a food server and restaurant captain at the upscale hotel, is seeking more than $75,000 in damages from the hotel chain and the hotel's vice president and managing director.

He alleges in the lawsuit a British family requested they not be served by "people of color" or with "foreign accents" and his bosses complied.

The family checked into the hotel Feb. 28 and a note in the hotel's computers, directed by vice president and hotel manager Edward Staros, said, "as per Mr. Staros, this couple is very very prejudice (sic) and do like like (sic) ppl of color or foreign accents," according to the lawsuit.

On March 12, Tranchant, a U.S. citizen who has worked for the hotel for 15 years, was prevented from his immediate supervisors from serving the family at The Grill restaurant.

"There's just no room for it in America," said Tranchant's attorney, Michael McDonnell of Naples. "I can't imagine what it's like."

Ritz-Carlton spokeswoman Vivian Deuschl didn't comment on the lawsuit, saying the company doesn't discuss pending litigation.

"The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company does not tolerate discrimination from our employees or our guests," she said.

Jack Wert, executive director of the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau, said most hotel chains provide employees with sensitivity training, and topics such as the subject of the lawsuit should be covered.

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