The 20-year-old member of staff turned up at the staff party with a 'blacked up' face, and a photograph shared on social media of how he looked has prompted a backlash, with one Twitter user stating: "Appalled that such racism is deemed acceptable by the hotel."
He was quickly asked to remove the make-up by a senior member of staff, and the managing director of Rudding Park, Peter Banks, told the 'Advertiser that a disciplinary investigation into the incident is under way.
Mr Banks stressed that Rudding Park (situated three miles south of Harrogate), in no ways condones racism, and emphasised that the hotel is one of the town's most diverse employers.
Speaking to the Harrogate Advertiser, Mr Banks said: "We in no way condone racism of any kind, covert or overt. We are one of the most diverse employers in Harrogate, and we have 24 nationalities working with us."
In a statement posted by Rudding Park on Twitter, which responded directly to some of the comments, the hotel said the member of staff's actions were "very ill judged and immature."
The statement reads: "Rudding Park in no ways condones racism, and it is no way acceptable to the company. This was a very ill judged and immature action by a 20 year old, who now realises the consequences of his behaviour and the hurt it has caused."
Another tweet from Rudding Park reads: "Thank you for highlighting this to us. This was recognised on the night and the junior member of staff concerned (who was one member of the staff party committee) was asked to remove this by a senior member of staff."
Why 'blacking up' is offensive
In recent months, a number of TV personalities and politicians have come under fire for blackface controversies.
The practice dates back to the early 19th Century, when black people were mocked for the entertainment of white people, promoting negative stereotypes.
White actors, called minstrel performers, adorned their faces with coal-black make-up.
In a 2012 article for The Huffington Post, David Leonard, chair of Washington State University’s department of critical culture, gender, and race studies, wrote: “Blackface is part of a history of dehumanisation, of denied citizenship, and of efforts to excuse and justify state violence.
“From lynchings to mass incarceration, whites have utilised blackface (and the resulting dehumanisation) as part of its moral and legal justification for violence.”
While many who take part in blackface may not consider themselves racist, Leonard goes on to explain that this doesn’t change the impact it has on society.