Kansas City, MO (KCTV) — A white female supervisor for the upscale Adam’s Mark hotel allegedly hung a “slave doll” from a noose in an employee break area, according to a Kansas City attorney, who sent her allegations to media outlets after regular business hours on Monday.
The doll, which is dressed to look like a slave, was hung with a plastic bag used as the noose, according to a picture obtained by attorney Stacy Shaw. She shared the picture taken by an employee on her Twitter account and included the hashtag #SandraBland, in reference to the black woman who died while in a Texas jail after a white officer arrested her
When KCTV5 reached out to Shaw Monday night, she was circumspect in her comments. She plans a news conference Wednesday morning in front of the hotel to reveal more details of her allegations and announce plans for a rally “to protest the blatant racism” that occurred.
“I was deeply disappointed and outraged that in 2015 in a city that I love that there could be such blatant intolerance and racism that was present in the workplace,” Shaw told KCTV5.
The low-level supervisor who hung the doll was quickly terminated by Adam’s Mark after hotel officials were alerted to the situation.
KCTV5 contacted the hotel for comment Monday night.
John Parker, the general manager of the hotel, sent KCTV5 the following statement following the publication of this story:
“This isolated incident is completely inconsistent with the values and culture of the Adam’s Mark Hotel Kansas City. This disturbing occurrence took place late Tuesday evening, July 21st. When brought to the attention of management the following day, an investigation was initiated. Immediately following the investigation, the employee was terminated, Friday, July 24th, prior to the start of their next shift. The Adam’s Mark Kansas City is committed to maintaining a positive working environment free of unlawful harassment.”
After the statement revealed that the employee had been fired, KCTV5 questioned Shaw, who advertises primarily for her expertise in traffic law, about whether the termination put an end to any concern about injustice.
She said the fight was not over. In her opinion, the fact that such a situation could happen suggests there is a workplace culture allowing insensitivity.
“That is a systemic problem,” she said, then went on to use her office as an example.
“Everyone that comes in the door, they know what my company’s core values are,” said Shaw, “and it’s never going to be a question that that is ever something that is going to be allowed. The fact that it was allowed is smoke and we’re trying to find the fire.”
A lawyer who specializes in employment law says proper reaction is not enough to protect a company. Training, follow-up training and clear policies are essential.
“It’s important for a company to create a culture of inclusivity before bad things happen,” said lawyer Denise Drake. “You want employees to know that it’s not tolerated, and you want employees to know what they should do if something bad does happen, and then you want to respond appropriately.”
Drake said those things are essential, but even when a company does everything right, horrible things can still happen.
“Employees are human beings and we all know people in this world who do dumb things, really awful things,” said Drake, “and so companies can do a certain amount, but they cannot absolutely stop everything.”
Parker said the hotel does conduct sensitivity training and that the last training session occurred just a few months ago.
Adam’s Mark recently reclaimed operations of the hotel just across Interstate 70 from the Truman Sports Complex. The hotel, which includes an indoor water park, is in the 9100 block of East 39th Street, just a stone’s throw from Independence. The hotel has seen an occupancy boost due to the success of the Kansas City Royals, but has also been the scene of a shooting this spring.
The Adam’s Mark employee took the photo on July 21 and sought legal advice several days later, Shaw said.
The photo has gone viral on social media after it was initially shared on July 22. The young man who went to Shaw with his complaint remains employed at Adam’s Mark.
“This photo was given to us by our client who was extremely upset by the incident and I applaud him for his bravery in coming forward to address this injustice,” Shaw said. “We’re asking the community to be supportive in standing up to intolerance and racism in our city and our country.”