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 County 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.
Hood says 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.
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.
Representatives from Harbourside Resort did not respond to a request for comment.