Clergy members and activists protest Irvine Embassy Suites
Clergy members and activists protest Irvine Embassy Suites

Fired African-American Hotel Worker at Irvine Embassy Suites Claims Racial Discrimination

Activists and clergy members from numerous organizations gathered outside Irvine Embassy Suites earlier this month to support former employee Aaron Westly who claims management fired him after he complained to no avail about a coworker calling him an "animal" and "nigger." The story of racial harassment went unreported save for the Tri-County Bulletin, an African-American newspaper serving the Inland Empire, Long Beach and Orange County.

In an article by Dianne Anderson, Westly recounts how he reported the incident to Human Resources. They responded with a dim light bulb of an idea of placing him in a room full of Latinos for an instructional 'learn to get along' session. Two of Westly's Latino coworkers already knew how to get along and backed his claims as witnesses.

Despite that, Westly lost his job at Irvine Embassy Suites the day before Thanksgiving. UNITE Here Local 11, entrenched in a long labor battle with the hotel, actively supported his cause. "He was saying that he's been called names like that before in his life, he lives in America and he's a Black man, that's true," says union spokeswoman Daria Ovide in the Tri-County Bulletin. Ovide claims that if hotel workers had the ability to unionize without intimidation, Westly would've been afforded protections in the matter as a union worker. "But that this time he's standing up and fighting back."

Anderson reached out to Iger & Associates for comment. The consulting firm stood up for Irvine Embassy Suites saying it has a strong history of hiring and supporting workers of color. They called Westly's claims of discrimination "unfounded" while taking a swipe at UNITE Here for opposing secret ballot elections for unionization.

Westly is seeking legal recourse but no lawsuit has yet been filed.

This month's protest rally, organized by Pastor Donald Wilson, enjoyed the support of many community groups. The NAACP, Black Community, Clergy and Labor Alliance, National Action Network, the Orange County Interdenominational Alliance and Southern Christian Leadership Conference rallied together with others. And OC's anti-black beat goes on...

Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @dpalabraz

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