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A local hotel denied employment to black housekeeping applicants,Â offered lower pay and hours to black housekeeping staff, terminated black housekeeping staff who complained of the less favorable treatment, and destroyed employment records since at least September 2, 2008, according to a lawsuit filed on September 30, 2010 by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)Â (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2010).
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.Â The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against an Indianapolis Hampton Inn hotel, alleging that the business discriminated against black housekeeping employees. According to the complaint, the general manager of the Hampton Inn at 2311 N. Shadeland Ave., told employees that she wanted Mexican workers instead of blacks because they would clean better and complain less EEOC claims that the hotel paid black employees less and fired black housekeepers who complained The suit also charges that the hotel destroyed employment records going back at least two years The suit was filed on behalf of fired employees and applicants who sought employment from September 2008 through June 2009 (Feds: Hotel Discriminated Against Black Employees, 2010).
The EEOC filed suit (Case No.Â 1:10-cv-1234) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement.Â The agency is seeking back pay, compensatory and punitive damages against New Indianapolis Hotels Inc., as well as other relief, including a permanent injunction to prevent the company from engaging in future race discrimination and/or retaliation (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2010).
The EEOC said it wants compensatory and punitive damages, along with back pay for the employees. It also seeks a permanent injunction to bar the hotel from perpetuating racial discrimination or retaliation, the same practices the agency alleged took place. Laurie Young, an attorney who represents EEOC's Indianapolis office stated that no employer can choose employees based on the color of their skin, nor can any employer treat employees differently based on the color of their skin . This was a case of race discrimination by the Shadeland Avenue Hampton Inn facility (Feds: Hotel Discriminated Against Black Employees, 2010).
The EEOC filed the suit claiming racial discrimination on behalf of five fired employees of the Hampton Inn, 2311 N. Shadeland Ave., plus a group of black applicants who sought jobs at the hotel. The suit also claims the hotel management destroyed employment records sought by the agency going back nearly two years. Incidents in the suit allegedly occurred from September 2008 to June 2009. The suit seeks back pay and reinstatement for the fired employees, and it seeks unspecified compensation for other blacks denied employment on the basis of their race.
Nancy Edmonds, senior trial attorney for the EEOC, said the manager no longer works at the hotel. Though employment records have been destroyed, the EEOC estimated about 30 to 35 applicants sought work at the hotel and may have been denied work based on their race (Lollis, 2010).
Stereotypes arise when we assume that all members of a culture or a group have the same characteristics. Stereotype can be attached to anything like race, religion, ethnicity, age, or gender as well as national culture. If the characteristics are respected then it is positive stereotype while if the characteristics are disrespected then it is negative stereotype. Both types create problem in inter cultural communication. One of them is that it gives people a false sense of understanding. Since stereotypes are only partial correct. Also stereotypes allow individuals to view others in a biased way that only confirm our prejudice (Bennett, 1998, p. 6).
According to LaRay Barna stereotypes help reduce the threat of unknown by making the world predictable. Stereotypes are over generalized secondhand beliefs that provide conceptual bases from which one makes sense of what is going around. Stereotypes are stumbling blocks for communicators because they interfere with objective viewing of stimuli. They exist as they firmly establish myths or truism by one's own national culture and sometimes rationalize prejudice (Barna, 1998, p. 183). In the Hampton Inn case black workers were being stereotyped as always complaining and not working efficiently, the negative stereotype created problem in inter cultural communication.
According to Thomas Kochman, in black and white cultural styles in pluralistic perspective, black culture stylistic self expression is an individual entitlement. This cultural pattern often gets them in trouble in white mainstream organization. Whites interpret such individualistic self expression as a presumption: laying claim to a greater rank or title in the organization than the black person actually holds. Blacks believe: tell me what to do, but not how to do it. The final authority for implementation of task rests with the doer. Whereas white people see that the authority lies in the hand of the designer of the plan. The difference gets Blacks in trouble in organizations because they get accused of arrogating themselves the authority to which their rank or role in the organization does not entitle them or of being insubordinate or uncooperative even when they do the task differently in the interest of getting the job done, when doing it in the way it was expected to would have not worked (Kochman, 1998, pp. 139-140). It can be observed in the Hampton Inn case that the manager, who was white, did not want to hire black applicants as the manager believed that black employees complained more and did not work properly. It can be assumed from the explanation given by Thomas Kotchman that the black employees following their individualistic style of entitlement actually believed that they need to be told what to do and not how to do it. But this was misinterpreted by the manager as laying claim to a greater rank or title in the organization than the black employees held. The black employees believed that the final authority for implementation of task rests with the doer while the white manager believed that the authority lies in the hand of the architect of the plan.
Whites and Blacks have different attitude towards solving disagreements. If disagreements at a meeting were to generate heat and strong emotion, whites would prefer not to talk then but later when the person is in control of emotion. But Blacks would prefer to contend. Whites prefer prevention of potential damage to the harmony of social relationships as taking precedence over expression of their individual views (Kochman, 1998, p. 147). Blacks prefer expressing their personal views over sustaining surface harmony that may not have real foundation which they saw as hypocrisy. Etiquette system in the two cultures is also different. Within white culture social rights of receiver deserve greater consideration than the rights of the assertor. Low offense/low defense pattern of public social interaction. Protecting the sensibilities and others requires mainstreamers to moderate the intensity level of their self assertion to the level that others can comfortably manage. Black cultures generate high offense/high defense pattern of public social interaction. This culture grants assertor equal or greater rights than the receiver. Psychological consequence of different sociocultural orientations is that whites feel hurt more to by hearing something unfavorable than expressing their feeling. For Blacks it hurts them more not to express their feeling than to hear something unfavorable. Attitudes of blacks and whites towards struggle are that blacks put truth before peace whereas Whites put peace before truth (Kochman, 1998, pp. 148-149).
Blacks think that White discussion style is devious and not sincere. This characterization stems Whites frequently not owing the position they represent. Whites characterize Black style as argumentative. This characteristic stems from the personal approach that Blacks use when engaging in an argument. Blacks do not only debate the idea they also debate the person debating the idea. Thus the idea is only as good as your personal ability to argue it. Whites also characterize the Black argument as threatening when meetings get emotionally charged (Kochman, 1998, pp. 153-154).
The most frequent listening response in black listeners is verbal. This is not seen often with white. Authority is often acceded to among whites more quickly that blacks. Blacks reject advice as ill-conceived meddling because the person is not in the same job. Black professionals and non professionals complain about this often (Asante, Gudykunst, & Newmark, 1989) . In the Hampton Inn case this can be observed between the white manager and black employees. The white manager might have thought of suggesting certain ways of doing the job which the black employees might have not liked as they would have believed that the manager is not in their line of work and therefore would not know how to execute the job efficiently.
The definition of subjective culture also provides a base for defining diversity in a way that includes both international and domestic cultures at different levels of abstraction. National groups like Japanese, US America and pan-national ethnic groups like Arab and Zuli are cultures with high levels of abstraction; the qualities that adhere to most (not all) members of the culture are mostly general and the groups has a lot of diversity. Here one can only note general differences in pattern of thinking and behavior between cultures. For example, US American culture is individualist and Japanese is more collectivist. At lower level of abstraction specific groups can be described in cultural terms. In USA groups like African American, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino America, and European American can be named in cultural terms. People in these groups might share many of the broader national culture characteristics while differing significantly in the more specific pattern of their own ethnicity (Bennett, 1998, p. 4).
In the Hampton Inn case the white manager preferred Hispanic/Latin American to Black or African American. Hispanic Americans have cultural characteristics common to their ethnicity like the Black American even though both are in America. Assuming one cultural group is better in work than the other shows that the manager differentiated workers based on their cultural ethnicity. In lower level of abstraction the two cultures might have shared a broader national culture characteristics of America but at lower level of abstraction the groups own ethnic characteristic differentiate them.
Cultures also differ considerably in their use of nonverbal behaviors. Although facial expressions of anger, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise have a universal origin, cultures differ in the rules that govern how these expressions are used. Cultural display rules are rules of expression management that dictate the appropriateness of emotion display depending on social circumstances (Ekman and Friesen, 1969). In the Hampton Inn case the way Black employees would express themselves non verbally would differ to how Hispanic employees would express. Since both are from different cultures their display of expression would be influenced by what they believe to be appropriate in a social circumstance.
According to Thomas Kochman, paralanguage, which also includes the pitch, stress, volume, and speed with which language is spoken, lends itself readily to misinterpretation cross-culturally. The potential for misunderstanding begins with perception. U.S. Americans are likely to miss shadings of tone which in higher context cultures would scream with meaning. Within the United States, European American males are less likely than some African American males to perceive the use of movement to signal a shift from talking to fighting. And conversely, black males may fail to discriminate the fighting cue of "intensity" in the tone of white male talk. This type of misunderstanding in cross cultural communication can be assumed in the Hampton Inn case where the manager was a white and employees targeted were black (Kochman, 1998, p. 18).
According to Sheila Ramsey, European and African Americans tend to be rather direct in their style of confrontation, compared with the indirectness of many Asians and Hispanics. Supporters of the direct style favour face-to-face discussion of problems, relatively open expression of feeling, and a willingness to say yes or no in answer to questions. People socialized in the more indirect style tend to seek third-person intermediaries for conducting difficult discussions, suggest rather than state feelings, and protect their own and others "face" by providing the appearance of ambiguity in response to questions (Ramsey, 1988). In the Hampton Inn case it can be assumed that the white manager who was following the direct style of communicating preferred to communicate with the Hispanic employees who might have followed the indirect style of communicating in comparison to the black employees who would have preferred to communicate directly. Therefore the assumption made by the white manager of that Hispanic employees were less complaining would be incorrect as Hispanics would prefer to not go and talk directly id there was a problem as compared to black employees who would prefer to speak directly and resolve the issue.
White American employers/employees believe that eye contact is important and it shows that a person is trustworthy, masculine, sincere, and direct, when white employer sees black employee who does not maintain eye contact, the employer might think that the person is shifty and cannot be trusted. But this might not be the same for black culture. For a black person the white person who does maintain eye contact is doing it in order to put something on someone (Martin & Nakayama, 1997).This type of misunderstanding could be one of reasons for miscommunication between the black employees and white manager. The manager at Hampton Inn might have preferred to maintain eye contact while speaking with employees while the black employees would have not liked it. To show their dislike they would have spoken directly or might have communicated in a manner that was not acceptable to the manager.
Training in alternative cross-status communication styles could then help members of both cultures appreciate and deal more effectively with each other in the workplace. One should always assume that there is a major possibility that cultural differences are causing communication problems, and be willing to be patient and forgiving, rather than hostile and aggressive, if problems develop. One should respond slowly and carefully in cross-cultural exchanges, not jumping to the conclusion. In unpleasant situations one needs to withdraw from the situation, step back, and reflect on what is going on before acting. Often intermediaries who are familiar with both cultures can be helpful in cross-cultural communication situations. One can encourage feedback as feedback allows communicators to correct and adjust messages. Without feedback we cannot have agreement. People can also develop empathy. The greater the difference between cultures, the harder it is to empathize. By becoming more sensitive to the needs, values, and goals of the other person, we overcome miscommunication. We can also try to Seek the commonalities among diverse cultures. Despite cultural differences all cultures alike in many ways. A common ground can establish a bond between two different cultures.