Lawsuit: ‘White is right,’ says manager of Gulf beach resort who won’t hire Black people
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Racism
Dustin Shelton told the man 'those are not the type of people' wanted in their hotel.

The former maintenance director of an Indian Rocks Beach resort is suing his one-time employer after he says the CEO and general manager chastised him for hiring a Black employee.

According to a lawsuit filed in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court, Jacob Hood was hired as the director of maintenance operations at Harbourside Resort in April 2018. Trouble began the next September when he took time off for a worker’s compensation claim.

Harbourside is part of the New Hotel Collection, which also operates the Cordova Inn in downtown St. Petersburg, the New Hotel on Indian Shores and Central Hotel in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains.

The owners of Harborside said in a statement to Florida Politics that case “is without merit and is not based on facts. The employee in question was terminated for legitimate cause, and the supposed statements by management described in the complaint are fabricated, plain and simple.”

Continued: “A plaintiff can allege anything in filing a lawsuit, but that doesn’t mean the allegations are necessarily true.”

What Hood alleges is that his bosses at Harbourside didn’t believe his injury was legitimate and “resented (his)…injury, receipt of worker’s compensation benefits, and work restrictions,” according to the suit.

Those work restrictions led Hood to hire a maintenance technician. That, he says, is when CEO Justin Alex Hodges and General Manager Dustin Shelton told him “those are not the type of people” they want working in their hotel because “they are not the right look.”

All three men are White, but Hood is married to a Black woman. The suit goes on to say that Shelton and Hodges told him he has a “weakness for those people.”

But Hood tells the court Shelton didn’t stop there. The suit says Shelton continued to cause tension by making increasingly derogatory comments about Black people and telling Hood he wasn’t authorized to hire Black people, saying “White is right.”

“Dustin Shelton approached the Plaintiff and made derogatory comments about African Americans,” the suit says. “Such as ‘ghetto, hood rat, trash, hoodlum, scum and from South St. Petersburg,’ which caused tension between the Plaintiff and the General Manager.”

Hood says he tried to report the behavior but was ignored and no corrective action was taken. He accuses the resort’s leadership of ridiculing him for his injury and hiring a Black person and for overly scrutinizing his work to find or create a reason to fire him.

The hotel ownership insists they do not discriminate in its hiring practices.

“20 percent of our team members are Black, and in total, minorities comprise 27 percent of our team. The suggestion that the company would not want to hire a diverse staff is ludicrous and not based on fact.”

Hood is suing over racial discrimination and discriminating against his injury. The suit doesn’t list a specific amount, but says Hood is seeking more than $100,000.

Hood could not be reached for comment.

Daniel Figueroa IV

Bronx, NY —> St. Pete, Fla. Just your friendly, neighborhood journo junkie with a penchant for motorcycles and Star Wars. Daniel has spent the last decade covering Tampa Bay and Florida for the Ledger of Lakeland, Tampa Bay Times, and WMNF. You can reach Daniel Figueroa IV at [email protected]


3 comments

  • PeterH

    November 23, 2021 at 3:43 pm

    “Bubbas R Us!”

    Welcome to the Florida Sunshine State. All grifters, bubbas and white nationalist are welcome! Bring your double wide, AR-15 and felony convictions! DeSantis will welcome you with a red carpet and a hug.

    Reply

    • Dale P. Gonzales

      November 24, 2021 at 12:58 pm

      You ain’t kidding! I am exiled here due to age & illness. However, prejudice is alive & well throughout the USA…I’m not any gun owner,and an anglo who is widowed from a “hispanic.” Spent many yrs in N.M. Loved it, altho there was a lot of prejudice there, too! Keep the faith…

      Reply

  • Dale P. Gonzales

    November 24, 2021 at 12:59 pm

    You ain’t kidding! I am exiled here due to age & illness. However, prejudice is alive & well throughout the USA…I’m not any gun owner,and an anglo who is widowed from a “hispanic.” Spent many yrs in N.M. Loved it, altho there was a lot of prejudice there, too! Keep the faith…

    Reply

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