Miami Beach-based multifamly investor Boardwalk Properties is accused of racial discrimination in a lawsuit claiming the company was upset about Black employees working at one of its apartment complexes.
Gina Joseph, who is Black, sued Boardwalk Properties FL last month, saying she was let go from her job at the company’s The Avenue Apartments in Davie.
Her termination came after Boardwalk manager Adam Walker “directly stated that ‘we need to get rid of all these Black faces, I need a white face here’ regarding the leasing management,” according to the complaint.
Walker’s comments came after meetings with staff from the property management firm that hired Joseph in 2019, according to the suit. Walker allegedly had been upset with the property manager for hiring Black employees.
Joseph says she was demoted from leasing manager to agent, and was eventually fired in March last year by the property management company. She and the only other Black staff member, who also was let go, were replaced by white employees, according to the lawsuit.
She levied race and color discrimination claims under the Civil Rights Act. Joseph is seeking an unspecified amount of damages from Boardwalk. Walker and the property management firm that employed Joseph are not named as defendants.
Boardwalk’s attorney, Andrew Gordon of Hinshaw & Culbertson, said the company did not want to comment. He filed to move the case to federal court from Broward County Circuit Court.
Although the suit so far levies no claims of racism or racist comments directly at Joseph, the alleged Boardwalk statements “speak volumes,” said attorney Chad Levy, who represents Joseph.
Walker’s alleged comments amount to “the insinuation” that if The Avenue property management office has Black employees, then this would lead to more Black tenants at the complex, Levy said.
“That’s the only rational reason that he would want a white person in the office,” Levy added. “Obviously, that is illegal and simply can’t be permitted.”
According to the complaint, Boardwalk also allegedly said it “saw ‘too many Blacks’ on the property.”
Boardwalk, through an affiliate, bought the 394-unit The Avenue at 6220 Reese Road for $119 million in 2018.
That year, the company focused on Broward multifamily, as it also bought the 191-unit Queue Apartments at 817 South East Second Avenue in downtown Fort Lauderdale for $53 million.
In April, various affiliates of Boardwalk sold a 452-unit multifamily portfolio in Miami Beach and Bay Harbor Islands to Sentinel Real Estate for $96.6 million.