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The Ritz: No Guest Request Too Big, or Too Bigoted?

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on April 27, 2010 1:01 PM

Ahhh, the Ritz. A hotel chain famous for its storied level of luxury and service. In Paris, it was home to the likes of Coco Chanel. In Naples, Florida, it is allegedly home to some extraordinarily racist guests. At least, that is, according to the lawsuit filed by one of the Naples Ritz-Carlton's long- time employees, who is suing the hotel for race discrimination for complying with a guest's request that they not be served by anyone of color.

According to the Fort Meyers News-Press, food-server Wadner Tranchant, who is a Haitian-born U.S. citizen, was prevented from performing his duties on March 12, 2010. As alleged in the federal suit filed on April 20, Tranchant's supervisors at the Ritz-Carlton asked him not to serve the Rodney Morgan family. Per the note in the hotel computer entered by Vice President and Director Edward Staros, the couple was, "as per Mr. Staros ... very very prejudice (sic)."

The Ritz-Charlton corporation, the News-Press reportsprides itself on its ethical standards and its willingness to honor any unusual guest requests. However, would it be fair to assume a strange guest request might be to ask the staff to bathe their small dog, or land their helicopter on the front lawn of the hotel? Not, one would hope, to allegedly ignore the jurisdiction's laws against discrimination on the basis of race.

Tranchant, who is also a restaurant captain, is seeking more than $75,000 in damages from the hotel chain and the hotel's vice president and managing director for complying with the nasty requests of their guests. This delightful couple also requested not to be served by anyone with a foreign accent. Ironic, considering everyone they would meet on their sojourn in the states would consider them to have quite a nice example of a "foreign accent."

The News-Press reports Ritz representatives would not comment on the pending litigation. However, Ritz Carlton spokeswoman Vivian Deuschl would like future guests and employees to please note that, "The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company does not tolerate discrimination from our employees or our guests."

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