LAS VEGAS — A Las Vegas tennis instructor filed a lawsuit in federal court on Thursday accusing a Nevada country club of firing her because of her biracial daughters.
Lawyers for Carmel Mary-Hill say they've been negotiating a settlement with Red Rock Country Club after the club allegedly discriminated against the tennis pro based on race.
But, after feeling like the country club blew off her claims, Mary-Hill says she had no choice but to file the explosive 30-page lawsuit.
In it, she accuses Red Rock Country Club of firing her after a member complained about her biracial daughters attending an annual tennis tournament.
"I’m OK with them attacking me because I’m in adult and I can handle it, even though it hurts me. But when you attack a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old because they are mixed, that’s not OK with me," Mary-Hill said.
Mary-Hill also claims her daughters were denied from Red Rock's daycare while her white coworkers were allowed to drop off their children at the same facility.
"Attitudes and people change. We’re talking about two little kids here and I don’t understand how people can be racist. It’s not normal," she said.
Mary-Hill says not only was she fired from Red Rock Country Club, but she was banned from ever coming back after filing a complaint with the Nevada Equal Rights Commission, or NERC.
NERC and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission both found probable cause for discrimination and retaliation charges against Red Rock Country Club. Neither opted to take legal action, but the EEOC issued a "notice of right to sue," which opened the door for Mary-Hill to take action.
"It’s definitely going to help because the Nevada Equal Rights Commission did its own investigation and after doing the investigation, which took about two years, they concluded that there was probable cause of race discrimination and retaliation against my client," said F. Travis Buchanan, Mary-Hill's attorney.
Mary-Hill says she's denied her daughters the opportunity to go back to Red Rock Country Club. She claims her former boss told her that her daughters could come to the club, just not with their mother.
"He said, 'You can drop your child off and let them play the tournament,' and I’m like, 'Why would I drop my kids off at a place that was racist to them and me?' I’m not putting my daughter in that situation," Mary-Hill said.
Mary-Hill says perhaps the hardest part of that decision was having to explain it to her daughters.
"My 8-year-old is like, 'Why can’t I go to the tournament? Other kids are playing at Red Rock.' Because I’m not allowed to go there," Mary-Hill said.
Mary-Hill is now hoping this lawsuit will lead to institutional change when it comes to how Red Rock Country Club views race.
"This was never about money. This was making sure that nobody else goes through what I went through at Red Rock and that they are held accountable for what they did," she said.
The lawsuit says Mary-Hill is seeking full front and back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and full legal fees.
KTNV reached out multiple times to Red Rock management on Thursday but did not hear back.