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EEOC: Baltimore parking garage owner fired workers based on national origin

One of the largest parking companies in the country violated federal law by firing three employees at a downtown Baltimore parking garage based on their national origin, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged in a lawsuit filed this week.

LAZ Parking eliminated four positions at its parking garage located across the street from the U.S. District Court in Baltimore, where the lawsuit was filed, as part of its transition from a cashier-at-exit system to a machine, the lawsuit states.

The EEOC alleges that a Moroccan customer service representative, a Moroccan cashier and an Ethiopian cashier were fired based on their national origin. All three employees had been with the parking company since 2009, the lawsuit states.

When the Ethiopian cashier asked the operations manager why she and only a few others were being fired, the manager allegedly said because of their “broken English,” the lawsuit states.

The manager previously made comments on the Moroccan customer service representative’s “broken English” and mocked her accent, the EEOC alleges.

Two American customer service representatives kept their jobs, including one employee who had been on the job for nine months and another who had never worked in customer service, the lawsuit states.

“These long-time employees did their jobs well and were able to communicate with customers satisfactorily. Unfortunately, LAZ Parking wrongfully selected them for layoff because of their accents and national origins,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.

A spokeswoman for LAZ Parking denied the allegations.

“We pride ourselves on the diversity of our team and these allegations are contradictory to the core values we embody at LAZ Parking,” she said in an emailed statement.

LAZ Parking’s alleged conduct violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on national origin, the EEOC alleges. The lawsuit was filed after prior settlement attempts were unsuccessful, the EEOC said.

The case is EEOC v. LAZ Parking Mid-Atlantic, LLC, 1:18-cv-02963.

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