update about the manager assigning hotel rooms based on race

Remember the manager who wanted to assign employees’ hotel rooms by race? Of course you do. Here’s the update:

Sadly, unlike so many other follow-ups, I can’t really say that things have changed at all. As many commenters pointed out, beyond race-based decision-making, some of the other factors brought up (intimidating employees, skimping on budgets, micro-management, bad performance review procedures) signaled that even if this was not a racially-motivated decision, it was a superlative example of bad management.

My former coworker is still at the current place of employment, waiting for her visa renewal process to go through. She (and most other workers there!) don’t let a day go by without applying for a job. Despite the overwhelming response from you, your guest, and most commentators that “Yes, this is illegal,” she decided not to pursue any case, mainly due to concerns that the CEO would cancel her visa renewal or try to muck up her immigration situation. For context, she often calls new employers and tells them that hiring her employees is violating her non-compete agreement — even when people move into totally different fields! She has also threatened to sue two former employees for slander and damages for things they have posted on their Twitter months after they left the company. In short, my friend decided it’s a situation that might be better to just get out of rather than fight.

If there’s any solace in this horrible situation, it is that the business continues to struggle as other companies compete for the previously unoccupied market space. I wouldn’t be surprised if these companies’ competitive edge has something to do with employee retention and better management, both from an entrepreneurial and HR angle. I also recently just found out how awful this CEO’s reputation is within the broader field of publishing — it is true that your reputation follows you and people in your field talk!

I’m so sorry that this didn’t really end better – just keep on crossing your fingers for my friend (and all past, present, and future employees in this company!)

{ 29 comments… read them below }

  1. anau87 (The OP)*

    Oh hey, just so y’all know, here’s an update to this update: since writing this, one person was fired for, well, asking the CEO not to ask questions based on race/background in interviews, and another person quit for a better job.

    It still feels like the twilight zone.

    1. Ruffingit*

      It is truly a horrible place of employment and I am keeping my fingers crossed for your friend and everyone else who currently does or may cross paths with this business. It’s astounding what people will try to get away with. Perhaps your friend can get a job with other companies moving into the market or maybe she can find a visa sponsor that isn’t dependent on employment. Whatever she does, I’m praying for her. I can’t even imagine dealing with an employer who has the “deportation” hammer.

      1. Jamie*

        I agree. This goes so far past bad management and into just being horrible human beings.

        I don’t know how people like this sleep at night. I hope the OP’s friend and everyone else gets out for saner pastures.

        1. Anonymous*

          Hopefully one day, someone will be able to stand up to this crazy CEO. Best of luck to your friend.

          By the way, Jamie, I love your Hello Kitty and wonder if you will be changing it for Halloween? My fav was the Kiss HK!

    2. Bean*

      I’m not familiar with the labour laws in the U.S., however I really hope the employee who got fired for asking the CEO not to ask questions based on race/background in interviews reports the CEO so there will hopefully be an investigation that will out this rotten person.

      1. fposte*

        There’s not likely to be a law that protects that person, unfortunately. Whistleblower laws are the closest, but the employee’s action isn’t likely to be covered by them.

          1. Jamie*

            The reason is because it’s not illegal to ask about those things, it’s illegal to base hiring decisions on those things…which is harder to prove.

            But there are really very few illegal questions in and of themselves…although it’s a good idea to stay away from asking certain things because it can lend credence to hiring decisions being made illegally.

            It’s a difficult area to police.

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, the disability questions are the only ones I know of where you’re actually forbidden from asking them.

        1. Tina*

          If I remember correctly, it’s illegal to *use* information about race and other protected classes in an employment decision (though I’m sure people do it), but not illegal to *ask* (though many people think it is).

          #4 in this AAM post touches on the “illegal” questions topic https://www.askamanager.org/2013/05/salary-when-you-dont-know-what-the-job-is-illegal-interview-questions-and-more.html

          and also

      2. Kou*

        The answer to that is “report what, and to whom?” Nothing that happened is illegal, unless the CEO is hiring/not hiring people based on race, and good luck proving that. What more, plenty of people would argue it’s not even unethical– as evidenced in the comments on the original post.

  2. Stryker*

    Oh dear… I was looking forward to an update on OP, hoping for a better ending for the rest of those poor folks at your old company. Thanks for telling us what’s happened, and we’ll keep rooting for you!

  3. Chlara*

    I am currently on H1 visa and I completely understand her not wanting that process to be affected if she said anything. Honestly at this point she should just endure it and if she’s in a good industry apply for another and see if she can get a transfer of her visa.

  4. fposte*

    “she often calls new employers and tells them that hiring her employees is violating her non-compete agreement”

    I love that she calls the new employers. I wish she’d call me. “Did I sign the agreement? No? Then why are you bothering me?”

  5. Mike C.*

    Why do we not know the name of this company? I don’t want to be a customer of theirs, nor do I want to be employed by them.

    1. Ruffingit*

      I’m 99% certain I know the name of this business. After the original post, I was so horrified by all of this that I wanted to see if I could find it. Using the details the OP gave in the original post, I think I was able to locate it. There’s no way for me to know with 100% certainty, but as I said, I’m 99% sure I know it. It’s definitely on my list of “never, ever, ever work here. Ever.”

      1. anau87 (The OP)*

        Let’s just say that if you found this company, in MA, and the website is awfully, awfully designed, you figured it out. :-)

        1. Ruffingit*

          LOL! Then I’m thinking I found the right site. I’m really sorry for all you and your co-workers have been through. I worked once for someone who sounds very similar to what you are dealing with. It is crazy making and going into work each day is a monumental effort. I can only hope your co-worker is able to escape soon. It is extremely detrimental to your mental health to work for people like that.

  6. Anon31*

    Eek. I knew a publisher like this (not 100% but close enough – easily could be her). Is the company Canadian? I know the OP probably can’t tell us, but yeah, everyone should be warned.

    1. Ruffingit*

      No, the company is in Massachusetts. But how sad that there’s another psycho like this floating around in Canada. I’m not the OP by the way, but she mentioned in the original posting that the company is in MA.

  7. Schuyler Pierson*

    If asking asinine questions about race is the only thing during the interview that might warn the interviewee to stay far, far away, then I hope she does keep asking it. That would save at least a few people from having to endure this workplace/manager.

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