Published: Apr 22, 2010 3:35 AM EDT

NORTH NAPLES - An employee of the Ritz-Carlton is suing the company for discrimination.  The man says he wasn't allowed to wait on a customer because he is black.

Wadner Tranchant has worked at the hotel for the past 15 years. In February, he says a family told managers they didn't want to be waited on by people of color or with foreign accents. Tranchant says about two weeks later, his supervisors prevented him from serving the customers dinner because they didn't want to be waited on by a black person.


Tranchant says the Ritz -Carlton even put the customer's preferences about race in the hotel's computer system.

The lawsuit says Tranchant has been embarrassed and frightened at work. He's suffered such severe and emotional distress, he's had to seek medical and psychological treatment.

Tranchant's attorney, Michael McDonnell, says the Ritz has created a hostile work environment.

"Essentially you can't legally discriminate against someone because of race, you can't make their work environment hostile, uncomfortable," says McDonnell.

McDonnell says this is first case like this he's ever seen and is suing in Federal Court under Title 42.

"This started with original Civil Rights Act in the Civil War," says McDonnell.

But, unlike Title 7, there's no limitation on the amount of damages that can be awarded.

"They're supposed to be large enough to deter the conduct," says McDonnell.  "Not bankrupt the person."

Tranchant is still working at the Ritz-Carlton, but will wait for a jury to decide what happens next.

"These are the types of cases that people need to make a decision about," says McDonnell.  "That's why it's going to a jury."

Our calls to the Ritz-Carlton have gone unreturned.