Black Real Estate Agent Wins Racial Bias Case Against Hamptons Firm


A Southampton native, who played tennis and basketball for Southampton High — and proudly claims to carry the record for many rebounds for men and ladies on all of Long Island — Ms. Claud thought she was poised for real estate success in the neighborhood where she grew up. She had planned to tap into her “sphere of influence,” a network of family and friends whom she could represent once they’re able to sell or buy a house, as many real estate agents do to start out their careers.

After working at Town & Country, a luxury real estate firm which has a big presence on the East End of Long Island, for about two years, Ms. Claud decided to work at Brown Harris Stevens of the Hamptons, which has a bigger footprint in the true estate industry. But once at her recent firm, Ms. Claud said she struggled to get the support that she needed to thrive as a recent agent. (Judge Morrison noted in her decision that Ms. Claud was often left off the office’s schedule to take walk-in and phone leads, that are crucial when an agent is starting up and has fewer word-of-mouth referrals.)

Along with feeling that her white peers were getting more mentorship, Ms. Claud said she was subject to inappropriate remarks, a few of which included direct and indirect references to her race. In a single instance, Ms. Claud’s supervisor called her a “pit bull,” an offensive description that likened her to a dog, she said.

The shortage of diversity was nothing recent, based on Vanessa Leggard, 56, a Black social media strategist in Suffolk County who was working at Brown Harris Stevens similtaneously Ms. Claud and who testified on the trial in February.

Ms. Leggard recalled how she once told a colleague that the firm was missing out available on the market of Black second-home owners within the Hamptons, especially in Sag Harbor. “I actually don’t think they were thinking about getting that market,” she said.

She described Ms. Claud as a go-getter, “thirsty for information,” and all the time seeking to get more training and support.

One in all Ms. Claud’s exclusive listings was a $1.525 million three-bedroom house in Southampton. The commission went to the agent who took Ms. Claud’s place after her contract was terminated. Judge Morrison noted the homeowner “recalled how he was disenchanted that the sale went to a different agent after Claud had done ‘a lot work to sell [his] house.’”

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