Two former employees of the East Ridge Motel 6 have a trial date for their federal discrimination lawsuit against the business owner.
Theodore John Haveman and Misty Manning sued Neil Patel, his management company and partner, claiming Patel fired the white workers to replace them with Indian employees.
The plaintiffs are seeking their jobs back, back pay and additional awards under alleged violations of both the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Lawyers for both parties met to schedule pretrial dates Friday in Chief U.S. District Judge Curtis Collier’s chambers.
Both the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Donna Mikel and Bill Payne, and Patel’s attorney, Nashville-based Kate Summers, declined to comment on the pending case.
The lawsuit claims that, in addition to the 2281 Camp Jordan Parkway hotel, Patel owns three other area hotels, but does not specify which properties.
In response to the lawsuit, Summers filed documents denying nearly all the allegations and stated that Haveman voluntarily quit his job.
Haveman and Manning won a settlement on unpaid wage and hour compensation against Patel and partners in 2008 amounting to $8,560 in back pay and $6,048 in attorneys fees.
After that lawsuit ended, Wanda Ledford, another Motel 6 employee, was allegedly fired after returning from medical leave. Ledford sued and named Manning and Havemen as witnesses, according to court documents.
In her lawsuit, Ledford claimed that she “lost her authority to hire American workers and American workers were ‘all lazy and never worked out.’”
From that point forward, Ledford claimed, the hotel only hired workers of Indian national origin.
Haveman, who worked for the hotel since 2003, was fired in January 2011. Manning, a hotel employee since 2002, was fired in February 2011.
Patel and partners settled the Ledford lawsuit in a confidential agreement in August 2011.
In the current lawsuit Haveman and Manning claim that after they were named as witnesses in Ledford’s lawsuit they were moved to different positions and had their hours cut while employees of Indian national origin were given work.
The pair also claim they received write-ups and disciplinary action for infractions for which Indian employees were not reprimanded, according to the complaint.
Some included using the laundry facilities or being late to work.
Indian employees also received higher pay, paid vacation and use of hotel facilities, benefits which American workers did not receive, according to court documents.
Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...