Judge denies hotel group's bid for dismissal in racial discrimination case

By Takesha Thomas | Jan 16, 2019

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A Florida judge has denied a motion for summary judgement filed by a hotel group over a racial discrimination lawsuit. 

U.S. District Judge Sheri Polster Chappell denied on Jan. 7 both Hospman LLC's and Jassas Capital LLC's motion for summary judgment filed in U.S. District Court Middle District of Florida Fort Myers Division. 

The companies had filed the motions after Tara Follese was fired in May 2014 after she showed up for work on her first day as a housekeeper. According to the filing, "she was told by the supervisor of housekeeping, Blanca Briones, who had spoken with hotel manager, Jose Carvalho, that Follese was terminated because she was not Hispanic and did not speak Spanish." 

Follese, who is white, and contends she was fired due to racial discrimination. She filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and later in district court against Jassas in October 2017. 

Best Western Hotel owners lose bid in racial discrimination suit   https://morguefile.com/photos/morguefile/1/housekeeper

In the latest matter, Chappell granted Follese's motion for relief. According to the filing, Follese, initially filed suit in January 2018 against Best Western International Inc., It was later discovered that the actual hotel owners was Jassas Capital. Attorneys for Follese filed an amended complaint later that month. 

A second amended complaint was filed against Hospman in April 2018 because Hospman performs management services at the hotel where Follese was hired and later fired. According to the filing, it wasn't until Jassas Capital filed a motion to dismiss that Follese learned Hospman was the management service. 

However, Hospman and Jassas argued that that Follese's claim "should be dismissed because it was asserted beyond the 90-day time period after the plaintiff received the notice of right to sue letter from the EEOC and does not relate back to the original filing date.

Chappell ruled, "Hospman’s argument fails for the same reasons that the court found in denying dismissal of Jassas Capital. It is clear from the documentation submitted by the parties that the defendants’ corporate structure and their inter-relatedness was not immediately apparent to the plaintiff when she filed the EEOC charge nor to her counsel when suit was filed, and the second amended complaint clearly arises from the same conduct and occurrences on which the original claims were made."

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