Marriott Vacations Worldwide was slapped with a lawsuit from an African-American former executive who alleged that his managers subjected him to a pattern of racial humiliation that included telling him to dance for co-workers.
Daryl Robinson filed his racial discrimination lawsuit on Dec. 20 in Los Angeles Superior Court against the hotel chain, KNBC-TV reported on Tuesday.
Working conditions caused Robinson, who was hired in February 2017 to sell timeshares for Marriott vacation properties, to suffer from anxiety and prompted his doctor to place him on medical leave, the lawsuit said. It seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
Marriott spokesman Ed Kinney declined on Monday to comment on the lawsuit because he had not seen it at that point.
After completing his training, a manager assigned Robinson, who brought nearly two decades of sales experience to the team, to work in a cramped storage closet instead of having his own cubicle as he was promised, the lawsuit states.
That was just the start of things to come. Robinson found it “extremely intimidating and humiliating” whenever his sales director would tell him to dance, usually to Michael Jackson tunes, for co-workers during sales meetings.
In another incident, management asked team members to bring a baby picture of themselves to work for a team-building exercise. The objective was to have fun playing a game of identifying each other as babies. Robinson, who was the only Black team member, didn’t see the point in him participating and would have had to ask his mother, who lives out of state, to send him a baby picture anyway.
Instead of letting it go, Robinson’s sales manager insisted on him participating. The manager picked a photo for Robinson—a picture of the Black character named Buckwheat from the 1930s “Our Gang” series. The image has been used as a racist stereotype of Black people.
The manager, despite Robinson’s protest of depicting him as Buckwheat, used the picture in the morning meeting.
After Robinson filed an internal complaint, the company’s human resources department refused to inform him of the outcome.
Refusing to work with the same manager and co-workers, Robinson “determined that he could no longer tolerate working for (Marriott) and was forced to give up his employment.”