Former employees at Detroit Club describe rampant racism in latest lawsuit

The lawsuit paints an ugly picture of racism and hostility at the 140-year-old club

click to enlarge The Detroit Club in downtown Detroit. - Steve Neavling
Steve Neavling
The Detroit Club in downtown Detroit.

Two more former employees of the Detroit Club filed a lawsuit against the downtown business, alleging they were fired or forced to quit in retaliation for complaining about repeated incidents of racial discrimination.

Charles Lisée and Miya Shani Hooks claim in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court last week that they were subjected to a hostile workplace, racist discrimination, and unlawful termination.

The lawsuit alleges the club’s owner and president, Lynn Uralli, “frequently used racial slurs, disparately treated minorities, and swept internal complaints of racism aside.”

They joined a lawsuit filed in June by Maria Victoria Ferrer, who made similar allegations.

“They were terminated or otherwise forced out of the door after submitting complaints of racism each witnessed at the club in relation to its treatment of African American guests, contractors, promoters, and coworkers,” states the lawsuit, filed by Jack W. Schulz, of Schulz Law PLC.

Together, the former employees paint an ugly picture of racism at the 140-year-old club at 712 Cass Ave.

According to the lawsuit, Uralli told an employee that two Black hostesses at the club’s Grill Room look like “n***er pigs” and “smell like garbage” because of the lotion they used.

Uralli allegedly referred to the club’s kitchen staff as “gangbangers” and said she was going to withhold pay because they were “basically going to steal stuff on their way out anyways.”

People who interviewed for jobs at the club were rejected because they were Black or Hispanic, according to the suit. Uralli allegedly said one candidate is “cute but a little too Mexican trashy” and another was “too Black.”

The employee who hired Hooks, who is Black, was asked by Uralli if Hooks was “Black or Black Black” and that she was “tired of hiring people who aren’t white,” the lawsuit alleges.

The former employees said Black guests were often treated hostilely and that Uralli called a Black couple “street rats” because they didn’t meet the club’s dress code. One of the alleged victims, Kody Hook, overheard Uralli and called her out on a Google review, which was included as an exhibit in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims Ferrer’s supervisor, Suzette Daye, disparately enforced the club’s dress code and was confrontational with Black patrons.

When a Black entrepreneur posted a video tour of the club on his professional Facebook Page, the lawsuit alleges Uralli demanded that it be taken down because she didn’t want to promote the club to “that group of people” or have “that crowd think they could come into the club.”

Lisée, who was a bartender at the club’s Library Bar, said in his resignation letter that he was quitting after witnessing “disturbing, unethical, and immoral abuse of minority guests.” He described an “infected and diseased culture of prejudice, discrimination, and hate at the club.”

Metro Times couldn’t reach Uralli or the Detroit Club for comment.

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About The Author

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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