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Black Man Changes Name To Secure Hotel Job Interview, Files Discrimination Lawsuit

By Benjamin Abioye



name for interview lawsuit later

A Black man has filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against a Detroit hotel, alleging that he was only offered a job interview after changing the name on his resume.

Dwight Jackson, who filed the lawsuit against the Shinola Hotel on July 3, claims that he was denied a job when he applied as “Dwight Jackson” but received an interview invitation when he used the name “John Jebrowski.”

The lawsuit accuses the hotel of violating the Michigan Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act.

Between January and April 2024, Jackson, a 27-year-old Black man, applied for multiple positions at the Shinola Hotel, including a role in reception. The Shinola Hotel, described on its website as a “luxury” hotel, did not initially respond to his applications.

Jackson’s attorney, Jon Marko, provided Jackson’s resume, which highlights his consistent employment history, including roles as a “Front Desk Agent” at Detroit’s Marriott Westin Book Cadillac and David Whitney Hotel, both known for their luxurious offerings. “Mr. Jackson had applied for a job that he was eminently qualified for,” said Marko, a civil rights attorney. However, the hotel did not offer Jackson an interview.

In April 2024, after receiving no response, Jackson applied again, this time under the alias “John Jebrowski,” using nearly identical resumes with different dates of previous employment. He was offered multiple interviews within the same week. The lawsuit alleges that “Jackson established that the Defendant’s consideration of candidates was based on the racial appearance of the applicant’s name.”

Marko emphasized the psychological impact of such discrimination, stating, “To be denied a job in 2024 in your hometown, for the color of your skin, goes beyond dollars and cents. It goes into the psyche of a person.”

Sage Hospitality Group, the operating partner of Shinola Hotel, responded through Anna Stancioff, Senior Corporate Director of PR & Brand Communications. In an email, Stancioff stated, “We take this allegation very seriously and do not tolerate discrimination of any kind. We are committed to fostering an inclusive workplace where everyone has the opportunity to succeed and are dedicated to building a diverse workforce that reflects the community.”

According to the lawsuit, Jackson attended the job interview and confronted the interviewer, revealing his true identity and expressing his belief that he was initially overlooked because his name sounded traditionally African American. “Shortly after Jackson underwent the interview process, he was informed that he was no longer a viable candidate for the position,” the lawsuit states.

Marko noted that employment discrimination, particularly against individuals with minority-sounding names, is not uncommon. “We’ve seen a lot of discrimination in hiring, especially when it comes to the exclusion of minorities and individuals who have minority-sounding names,” he said.

A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research supports this claim, finding that resumes with Black male and Black female names received the fewest callbacks when sent to 108 U.S. employers to analyze the impact of race and gender on hiring decisions.

However, Marko acknowledged the difficulty of proving name bias in court, as most cases lack sufficient evidence. Jackson’s case stands out because he applied for similar positions with nearly identical resumes, yielding different results based solely on the name used.

Marko stated that Jackson “wants to shed light on this problem that’s not just isolated at the Shinola Hotel, not just isolated in Detroit or Michigan, but across the country. He wants to make sure that it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

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