MANHATTAN (CN) – The Millennium Broadway Hotel in Times Square must face discrimination charges after two supervisors allegedly lynched a voodoo doll and left it for a week on a bulletin board, a federal judge ruled.
The lawsuit claims that Thomas Scudero, regional director of property operations for the hotel, brought “a number of voodoo dolls” with “black faces and pink lips” into his office in 2009.
Scudero, who is white, allegedly tacked one of the dolls onto the bulletin board of another white supervisor, Joseph Fariello, “by pinning a two inch-long string attached to the doll’s neck.”
Freddrick MacMillan, a black engineer who worked for the hotel for 21 years, took offense. MacMillan said he thought the dolls were about him and that he had complained when co-workers called him racial epithets in the past.
MacMillan told the court that he said to Scudero: “I hope those dolls ain’t about me,” and asked: “Should I be offended by these dolls?” Scudero allegedly replied that the dolls were “souvenirs for his staff.”
“A number of other hotel employees were likewise disturbed by the doll display, which appeared to them to evoke the lynching of black males,” the Southern District of New York summarized.
A hotel engineer asked MacMillan, “You know that the doll is you, right,” according to the complaint.
In a recent ruling, the Southern District of New York notes that the hotel does not dispute that Fariello refused to take the doll down after workers complained. The doll stayed up for about a week until the workers brought it to the attention of a union representative on Jan. 30, 2009.
The hotel did not discipline anyone in the investigation that followed. After a month of paid leave, Scudero returned to work and told the staff that he did not intend to offend anyone.
MacMillan said that co-workers continued to call him a “nigger,” and the hotel did nothing to stop them.
U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe said Friday that MacMillan’s racial discrimination and hostile work environment claims are ready for trial.
“Here, a black-faced doll was hung by the neck in plaintiff’s work area for at least seven days, by two of plaintiff’s supervisors,” the order states. “Plaintiff has met his burden of demonstrating that this display was both subjectively and objectively hostile and abusive.”
MacMillan’s attorney was not immediately available to comment, and an attorney for the hotel declined to comment. The parties will meet for a pretrial conference on Sept. 23.