Daryl Robinson, a former sales executive for Marriott Vacations Worldwide alleges in a lawsuit that he was asked to dance during meetings as entertainment for other employees and that a photo of the character Buckwheat was used to represent him during a team building exercise.
Robinson began working in February 2017 as a sales executive with Marriott Vacations Worldwide selling timeshares to vacation properties and says he was the only African-American employee in the office.
Robinson filed the lawsuit in a Los Angeles Superior Court this week and there are A LOT of allegations to this lawsuit so let me highlight a few:
– Robinson alleges that he was asked on multiple occasions to dance by a director of sales during sales meetings, usually to music by Michael Jackson.
– Robinson alleges that on another occasion, the director of sales complimented most of the staff by saying “we have a good-looking crew” but then looked at Robinson and said, “Daryl looks ready to breakdance” to which Robinson says his co-workers laughed at the remark and he was “completely humiliated, dejected and felt completely defeated.”
– Robinson alleges that at another meeting, he was asked to submit a baby photo of himself to use for a team building exercise centered around how well employees knew one another. Robinson says he informed his colleague who was collecting the photos that he did not have one to submit and that as the only African-American in the office, his photo would be easy to identify. Robinson claims that he was told by this colleague that if he did not provide a photo, she would use an image of Buckwheat. He further claims that he told her that the character was “stereotypically racist, degrading to African-Americans and would be inappropriate and offensive” to him if she used it but she did anyway asking the team: “Who do you guys think this is?”
– Robinson also claims that he was not given a cubicle like the other sales representatives and instead, worked out of a “cramped” storage closet that had no air conditioning. The work space was half that of his colleagues, the suit states. He claims his co-workers even wondered aloud if he was put there because of his race, according to the suit.
John Dalton, Robinson’s attorney, said he spent several months investigating Robinson’s claims and was able to corroborate the allegations by speaking to his former colleagues.
“Admittedly, one time, he did get up and dance,” Dalton said. “There were a number of times he was asked and he was like, ‘No, no thanks.’ And when he did get up, he was the new guy. He didn’t want to make waves.”
Robinson is suing for unlawful race discrimination, unlawful race harassment, failure to prevent race discrimination and harassment and retaliation for opposing forbidden practices.
Robinson’s doctor put him on a medical leave because of his anxiety, his attorney said. Robinson resigned from the company on Jan. 1, 2018.
According to the timeline, this all happened in less than a year. Yikes! What a horrible experience!
As a black man who has experienced varying levels of racism, being singled-out and embarrassed, I’m disappointed but not surprised.
The news has been filled with many racially-charged occurrences. We’ve all seen “BBQ Becky,” “Permit Patty,” and “Cornerstone Caroline” circulating on our local news station and social media timelines….and now this.
What do you make of this situation? Are similar incidents happening more often or are we more aware of them because they are going viral? Do incidents like this determine if you stay at a hotel chain or support a business?