British Family Sparks Race Case After Telling U.S. Hotel: ‘We Don’t Want to Be Served by a Black Person’

Daily Mail (London), April 22, 2010

A British family is at the centre of am astonishing legal case in America after telling a luxury hotel they did not want to be served by a black waiter.

Their apparent racist request was entered into the computer of a five star Ritz-Carlton hotel on checking in and a black waiter was later stopped from serving them.

Haitian born Wadner Tranchant claims he was turned away from serving the family during their recent stay at the hotel in Naples, Florida, to avoid upsetting them.

Lawyers representing the 40-year-old named the principal family member as Rodney Morgan.

Court papers did not list an address for the family but identified them as a British family who were registered at the hotel from February 28th.

‘My client was prevented from waiting on this couple because he was black,’ said lawyer Michael McDonnell.

According to a court papers filed against the beach front Ritz-Carlton hotel, managers breached the Civil Rights Act by stopping Tranchant from serving the couple.

His lawyers say that around February 28th, the Morgan family arrived as guests and specified their preference to not be served by ‘people of colour’ or with ‘foreign accents’.

Their preference to be served by whites only was typed into the hotel’s computer system to alert senior staff.

The note in the hotel’s computer system said the family were ‘very very prejudice’.

Mr McDonnell said nine other staff members at the hotel have said they were told the British family didn’t want to be served by blacks or anyone with an accent.

On March 12th Tranchant, who is a US citizen, was due to serve the family at the hotel’s Grill restaurant.

With Morgan’s seated in the restaurant he was switched to other duties.

The lawsuit calls the £200-a-night hotel’s conduct ‘pervasive and severe’.

It said the waiter, who has worked at the hotel for 15 years, was left ‘humiliated and embarrassed’ The lawsuit, filed in Fort Myers District Court on Wednesday, claims Tranchant was so offended he has had to seek medical and psychological help.

His lawyers have used the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which was passed a year after blacks were freed from slavery following the end of the American Civil War,to bring the lawsuit.

The Act makes it illegal to discriminate in jobs and housing on the basis of race or colour. The Ritz-Carlton hotel and its manager are named in the legal action in which Tranchant is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

A spokesman for the Ritz-Carlton refused to comment.

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