A hotel manager of a Laguna Beach resort is facing backlash on social media after he was filmed asking a black family seated inside one of the hotel's restaurants to sit outside for no reason.
Maria Baietti, one of the family members, took to Facebook to share video footage of the incident along with a brief of the events that unfolded before she pulled out her cellphone and started recording.
Black Family Asked to 'Sit Outside'
According to Baiette, she and her family members went to the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach to grab lunch and drinks at one of the resort's three restaurants and requested to be seated inside as the outside section did not have any umbrellas to provide shade. She noted that shortly after taking a seat, the manager on duty, identified as Timothy Ward, told their group that they would have to sit outside citing hotel rules.
At first she thought the hotel was following COVID-19 guidelines and they were being asked to leave to abide by social distancing and face-mask norms but she was wrong.
"We all looked around the room to see several tables with large and small groups seated inside being served drinks and food....and wearing no masks. Several people were also walking into the place wearing no masks," she pointed out.
Baiette said Ward became hostile when they questioned the logic behind his request. "He then was very rude and aggressive in his tone when we wanted an explanation as to why "we had to sit outside" when a few feet away from us inside people were enjoying food and drinks? It was clear cut discrimination."
'I React to the Way Our Guests React'
In the video, one of the family members films a white couple seated right next to them while saying, "These people are considered outside." A family member seated next to woman filming can then be seen trying to explain to the manager that he is acting aggressively, to which Ward responds, "I react to the way our guests react. If I'm being treated rudely, I'm replying you that same way."
Ward then notices the woman recording him and tells her to "go ahead and record all you want" before flashing his nametag to the camera and pulling out his cellphone to record the guests. She then pans the camera to reveal another group of white people seated inside the restaurant.
Baiette said the manager escalated the situation "unprofessionally" while they spoke to him in a calm and composed manner. Ward then called the security on them and demanded that they leave.
"It was very embarrassing and appalling. I would never ever go back to this place and highly discourage anyone else giving this resort one dime of your money! I am filing a former complaint with management," Baiette wrote.
Watch the video below:
Social Media Reactions
The video has now gone viral across multiple social media platforms with some users accusing Timothy of being racist and urging the hotel to fire him over the incident.
"You can't have one set of rules for black people, and another set of rules for white people. This racist manager is really trying to tell them inside is outside for white people but not for them," wrote one user.
"He deserves to be fired and never hold a job in the service industry," commented another. "The racist part is whole other degree, but even if it wasn't prejudiced he deserves to get fired. I work in hospitality industry you never ever react the way the guest reacts. That's hospitality 101."
Yelp Disables Comments Temporarily
According to his now-deleted LinkedIn profile, Ward is the Director of Guest Services at the Montage Laguna Resort. Several users even started review-bombing the hotel's Yelp page and the influx of negative comments prompted the review-website to disable users from posting reviews on the page temporarily.
"This business recently received increased public attention resulting in an influx of people posting their views to this page, so we have temporarily disabled the ability to post here as we work to investigate the content," Yelp said in a statement on the page.
"While racism has no place on Yelp and we unequivocally reject racism in any form, all reviews on Yelp must reflect an actual first-hand consumer experience (even if that means disabling the ability for users to express points of view we might agree with)," the company added.