The lurid but virtually unnoticed race discrimination lawsuit against Donald Trump’s Central Park South hotel is scheduled for a judicial settlement conference just five days before the GOP convention opens in Cleveland.
The meeting is before United States District Court for the Southern District Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman in lower Manhattan on Wednesday July 13. At issue is a credible lawsuit, say experts, filed in January 2015 by Jamaican immigrant Bryan Lambert.
He claims that a fellow security guard at Trump International Hotel and Tower continually racially harangued him, saying, at one point, “all you mother fucking immigrants are coming to this country, fucking us up, and taking our jobs.”
Lambert, who also says a bellman gay-baited him, charges that when he complained to HR they said he should just take one for the team. “Stick it out and work together. It’s not about you. It’s about the job,” he was allegedly told.
When Lambert instead filed an EEOC complaint HR gave him a bogus reprimand. But promised it would be expunged if he withdrew the charge.
Lambert’s is also suing for discrimination based on disability because they told him to shave his beard, even though he has a common condition for black men that makes shaving extremely painful. “You are not special,” assistant manager Francis Calderon allegedly said. “Why can’t you look more like [an Asian-American front desk worker named] Christine.”
Employment lawyer Morris Fischer, who frequently sues the Obama administration for clients, has said the lawsuit is solid. Telling “an employee that he has been harassed to go work it out is egregious.”
In its initial April 17, 2015 response the Hotel’s denied some of the factual allegations and pleaded insufficient knowledge to evaluate the veracity of others — basically a pro-forma defense.
But, some four months later, the hotel’s lawyer Diane Windholdz made significantly different arguments in her statement to the presiding judge about a scheduled status conference.
She conceded Lambert was subjected to racist remarks by his white co-worker, Thomas Ahearn, but denied the comments constituted an illegal “hostile work environment.” She also claimed Ahearn was fired after a subsequent hotel “investigation.”
She insisted Lambert was given an exception to the hotel’s no beards policy after providing a doctor’s note. But his claim says the required medical documentation was submitted and disregarded.
Windholdz said in the letter that following discovery both sides would file motions with the judge for summary judgment in their favor. Discovery, which includes both sending and answering written questions known as “interrogatories,” plus depositions, is scheduled to be completed next week.
Employment lawyer David Wimms cautioned against drawing any conclusions from the scheduled settlement conference. “Some judges require the parties to attend settlement conferences and some don’t,” he told the Washington Gadfly. “Similarly, sometimes a party or the parties will request a settlement conference from the judge.”
The Trump campaign has ignored repeated inquiries about the lawsuit, first reported here during the campaign and later cited by The Root.