Lauderdale yacht company faces discrimination lawsuit

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Broward County (Fla.) commissioners recently voted to sue a Fort Lauderdale yachting crew company for racial discrimination.

Diane Melton applied for a job several years ago at the Luxury Yacht Group. After applying, she received an e-mail and read her would-be boss's comments that she might not fit in with the yachting clientele because she was “black and overweight,” the Sun Sentinel newspaper reported.

The e-mail, sent to Melton by mistake, is at the crux of a racial discrimination case Broward taxpayers are now involved in. Melton didn't get the job at Luxury Yacht Group, and the county is going to court on her behalf.

Commissioners voted last week to sue to force the company to pay the $44,965 in damages and about $100,000 in attorney's fees that the county's Human Rights Board said it must.

The rights board ruled two years ago that Luxury Yacht Group committed racial discrimination, a violation of county and federal law. The county can use the courts to enforce the rights board's final orders when they aren't followed.

Rupert Connor, owner of Luxury Yacht Group, told the newspaper that his company was treated unfairly by the county, all based on one e-mail. His appeal of the county order is pending in circuit court. He said he's also being sued by Melton in federal court, the newspaper reported.

The company recruits crewmembers to work on yachts and he said he has hired people of all backgrounds.

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