Tag Archives: Sexual Harassment

Hospitality Industry Management Update: “Hotel Housekeepers Are at Great Risk for Sexual Assault From Guests”

“Women described men who insisted they close the door while cleaning, grabbed their hands as they handed over change and asked where they could “find a girl.”housekeeper-387x580 Kensbock and her colleagues identified a few factors that put women in the hotel industry at a heightened risk for sexual harassment, including the “gendered” nature of their work as housekeepers and their lack of power relative to the guests…Most of the women in Kensbock’s study coped with harassment using passive strategies, like humor or deflection. Though the hotel management had protocols they could follow to report inappropriate behavior, womenfearing guests would retaliate by leaving negative surveysrarely complained.”

When Dominique Strauss-Kahn was accused of assaulting Nafissatou Diallo, the maid who was sent to clean his hotel room, hospitality workers thought the story seemed all-too-plausible. In a New York Times op-ed, Jacob Tomsky, a veteran of the hotel industry, wrote that housekeepers are assaulted by guests “more often than you’d think,” and that their employers don’t offer much protection. In a recent account on xoJane, an anonymous woman describes a decade’s worth of sexual harassment in different parts of the hotel industryfrom working the front desk to cleaning rooms. It’s so systemic, she says, that the women developed coordinated strategies to cope with itlike enlisting other housekeepers to stay with them when they’re assigned to clean the room of a “known pervert.”

For more: http://bit.ly/124uEO7

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Hospitality Industry Legal Update: “Three Fired Workers Sue Comfort Inn in South Portland”

“…Parker’s lawsuit alleges she was closely scrutinized and was falsely accused of wrongdoing after reporting the harassment. She was fired in February 2011 for violating the hotel’s confidentiality policy. Image The lawsuit alleges she was discriminated against because of her age, which is now 69…”

Three former employees have sued the Comfort Inn in South Portland, alleging they were fired after reporting sexual harassment by a hotel maintenance worker.

The women allege in three separate lawsuits that they faced discrimination and were subsequently fired, all in 2011, after reporting that one of them was repeatedly sexually harassed by the male worker.

For more: http://bit.ly/1koKgyP

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Hospitality Industry Legal Risks: Pennsylvania Hotel Faces Federal “Sexual Harassment And Retaliation” Lawsuit; Woman Terminated After Making Written And Verbal Complaints

“…the hotel’s assistant manager, told the plaintiff that (the defendant) was telling others that he possessed nude photographs of Vazquez, Hospitality Industry Sexual Harassment Lawsuitssomething the woman denied…(she) met with the hotel’s manager (and asst. manager) in the spring of 2012 to discuss the situation…Vazquez subsequently offered the human resources department a written statement about the harassing conduct…Two days after she submitted her statement, the plaintiff was placed on a five-day suspension…Vazquez was told she was being suspended for voiding a transaction at the front desk when her cash drawer was short, even though the plaintiff claims she was taught to do just that in such a situation when she first started working for the defendant…After returning from her suspension on May 16, 2012, the plaintiff was immediately fired from her job…”

A Philadelphia woman who worked as a front desk agent for the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown Hotel has filed a federal civil action against the business contending she was fired in retaliation for speaking out about harassing conduct on the part of another worker.

Crystal Vazquez, who was first hired by the defendant in May 2010, maintains that her firing exactly two years later was retribution for the plaintiff complaining about sexual harassment by the hotel’s AT&T specialist, a man identified in the complaint as Ryan Sheridan. Sheridan, who is not listed as a defendant in the litigation, allegedly told hotel employees that he and the plaintiff had been sexually intimate.

Vazquez was out on maternity leave in late December 2011, which is when Sheridan was allegedly making the comments about the supposed intimate nature of his relationship with the plaintiff, the lawsuit states.

“Needless to say, Plaintiff’s termination was a direct result of her complaints regarding sexual harassment,” the complaint reads. The lawsuit accuses the hotel of violating the Civil Rights Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

For more: http://pennrecord.com/news/12512-sheraton-phila-downtown-hotel-named-in-federal-civil-rights-claim-tied-to-wrongful-firing-of-front-desk-agent

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Hospitality Industry Employment Risks: Hawaii Restaurant Settles EEOC “Sexual Harassment And Retaliation” Lawsuit For $350,000; Young Female Workers Assigned Less Favorable Shifts

“…The federal agency filed suit in 2011, later amending its complaint to charge that at least 10 female staffers were sexually harassed by several male employees, Equal Employment Opportunity Commissionincluding managers…The agency further alleged that some employees were subjected to retaliation after complaining about the alleged harassment. The EEOC also alleged that the women were also treated less favorably than men in the workplace: they were passed over for promotions, assigned less favorable shifts and earned less than their male counterparts…”

La Rana Hawaii, LLC, doing business as Señor Frog’s, a popular Mexican-themed restaurant and bar in Honolulu, will pay $350,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of 13 female employees who were allegedly sexually harassed or retaliated against between 2007 and 2012, the federal agency announced today.

The EEOC alleged that the managers subjected employees to sexual comments, language and advances, and unwelcome physical contact. The alleged behavior violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. La Rana Hawaii, LLC dba Señor Frog’s & Altres, Inc., Case No. CV-11-00799 LEK BMK) after first attempting to resolve the matter through its conciliation process.

As part of the settlement announced today, the parties entered into a three-year consent decree requiring La Rana Hawaii, LLC to pay $350,000 to 13 female claimants. The company closed its Honolulu establishment in August 2012. Notwithstanding, if La Rana chooses to open another restaurant or chooses to reopen the Señor Frog’s in Hawaii, the consent decree requires substantial injunctive relief including the creation and distribution of an anti-harassment policy along with annual training for all restaurant employees to prevent future instances of sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation. The EEOC will monitor compliance with the agreement.

Altres Inc., a Hawaii staffing company, was contracted by La Rana Hawaii to provide human resources services and oversee the company’s non-management staff during the time in question. The EEOC also named Altres in its lawsuit; Altres previously settled with the EEOC for $150,000 and injunctive relief, including EEO training for its employees.

“Our young workers are all too often the targets of the most insidious forms of sexual harassment, which can spread like wildfire at work,” said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, which includes Hawaii in its jurisdiction. “Employers who fail to fulfill their moral and legal obligation to prevent and immediately stop the sexual abuse of its young workers will answer to the EEOC.”

Timothy Riera, local director for the EEOC’s Honolulu Local Office, added, “The EEOC takes workplace harassment against young workers very seriously. Through our Youth@Work outreach, we aim to educate America’s next generation of workers on their right to work in an environment free of harassment and discrimination and their right to report such abuses without retaliation.”

For more:  http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/11-21-13.cfm

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Hospitality Industry Legal Risks: Florida Restaurant Faces Federal “Sexual Harassment Lawsuit”; Manager Created “Hostile Work Environment”, Retaliated Against Two Female Workers

“…(one plaintiff) worked at the restaurant from 1999 to February of 2012 and she complained to the restaurant’s owner about the manager’s Hospitality Industry Sexual Harassment Lawsuitsuse of “racial slurs in the workplace”…The manager also directed racist “pet names” of his own creation toward her…The lawsuit charges the manager used derogatory terms and slurs as part of a “vicious regime of racial and sexual harassment” at the restaurant on Canal Street, and it says “no effective action was taken to stop it.”

Two former employees of a McDonald’s restaurant in Mulberry have filed a federal lawsuit, accusing a manager of creating a hostile work environment. The women allege they were retaliated against after making complaints known to the restaurant’s owner. Cowles’ hours were drastically reduced, and she was left with “no choice” but to quit her job when the manager’s behavior continued, the lawsuit states.

Potts went on maternity leave, and when she attempted to return to work, she was informed “there was no job for her, despite the nearly perpetual turnover of employees at the restaurant,” according to the lawsuit.

For more: http://www.theledger.com/article/20131116/NEWS/131119396/1374?Title=Ex-McDonald-s-Employees-File-Lawsuit

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Hospitality Industry Employment Risks: Georgia Restaurant Sued By EEOC For “Sexual Harassment”; Female Workers Forced To Resign After Not Tolerating The Abuse By Manager

“…According to the EEOC’s suit, the employer allowed six women to be subjected to repeated acts of sexual harassment by a manager.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commissionsexual harassment occurred throughout the servers’ employment, occurring daily for some…When some of the servers rejected the sexual advances, they were assigned to less profitable sections of the restaurant or had their work schedules negatively changed, which resulted in lower earning opportunities. Although the employees complained to other management officials about the harassment, nothing was done to stop it from recurring…” 

A popular Atlanta-area restaurant/nightclub violated federal law by subjecting female servers to a pattern of sexual harassment by a manager, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed recently against Sirdah Enterprises, Inc., which owns and operates Taboo 2 Bar and Bistro in Roswell, Ga. The agency also alleged that the working conditions were so intolerable that five of the women were forced to resign when they could no longer tolerate the abuse.

It included groping their breasts and buttocks, indecent exposures, explicit sex related comments, requests for sexual favors, and promises of better working assignments and other benefits if they engaged in sexual acts.

Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The EEOC filed the suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia (EEOC v. Sirdah Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a Taboo 2 Bar & Bistro, No. 1:13-cv-03657) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.  The federal agency seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for the servers, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent such misconduct in the future.

“This case involves charges of gross sexual harassment where a manager, an individual normally entrusted with ensuring that the rights of employees are protected, took advantage of these women by abusing his position of power,” said Bernice Kimbrough, district director for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office.

Robert Dawkins, regional attorney for the Atlanta District Office, said, “Taboo 2 was aware of the sexually hostile work environment to which these young women were being subjected, but failed to take remedial measures as required under the law.  In addition to vindicating the rights of these seven women, this lawsuit is for the purpose of protecting the rights of current and future female employees.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at http://www.eeoc.gov.

For more: http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/11-6-13a.cfm

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Hospitality Industry Legal Risks: Employers Unaware Of A Co-Worker’s Harassment Are Still “Vicariously Liable” If Done By A “Supervisor”; Defined As Power To Take “Tangible Employment Actions” In “Hiring, Firing, Decisions On Benefits”

“…The enforcement guidance issued by the EEOC interprets broadly which employees should be considered “supervisors” under Title VII. Hospitality Industry Sexual Harassment LawsuitsAccording to the guidance, any individual with the ability to exercise significant direction over another’s daily work is a supervisor, and the employer would be liable for their acts…The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the EEOC’s stance with the 2013 case of Vance v. Ball State University. If the employer is unaware of a co-worker’s harassment, the Supreme Court decided that employers should only be vicariously liable under Title VII for a co-employee’s harassing behavior if the employer granted them the power to take “tangible employment actions,” such as hiring, firing, failing to promote, significant reassignment, or decisions causing significant changes in the employee’s benefits…”

Employers are not automatically liable for harassment committed by all employees. If the employer is aware of harassment occurring and does not take steps to address and stop it, then the employer has some exposure. If the employer is not aware of the harassment, the employer may be liable if the harasser is considered under the law to be a “supervisor.”

Some harassment lawsuits turn on whether the person who was doing the harassing should be treated as a supervisor. A recent Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision (which applies to Oklahoma employers), sets some guidelines for what employees are considered supervisors, for purposes of imposing potential harassment liability on employers.

Priess Enterprises operated a McDonald’s restaurant in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Megan McCafferty began working as a crew member on February  15, 2007. Her shift leader was Jacob Peterson. Peterson participated in the restaurant’s “Manager-in-Training” program. He was also responsible for directing day-to-day activities of shift workers like McCafferty. His responsibilities included assigning duties, scheduling breaks, authorizing crew members to leave early or stay late, and writing up employees for misconduct. Everyone agreed that Peterson did not have the authority to hire, fire, promote, demote or transfer other employees.

McCafferty, a high school student, agreed to cover another employee’s shift, but explained to Peterson she would need a ride from school. As promised, Peterson picked up McCafferty from school and checked her out of class early. Peterson told McCafferty that she had been excused from her shift, and asked her if she wanted to “hang out.”

When she accepted his invitation, Peterson offered McCafferty marijuana. Peterson and McCafferty spent the next two days together, which involved alcohol, methamphetamines and sex. Eventually, McCafferty’s sister spotted her, pulled McCafferty from Peterson’s car, and called the police. When McCafferty did not contact anyone at McDonald’s, the restaurant treated McCafferty as having resigned.

McCafferty filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and later filed a lawsuit against the restaurant and Peterson. McCafferty claimed Peterson was a supervisor under Title VII, and that she had been sexually harassed. McCafferty also included a state law claim, accusing the restaurant of being negligent in hiring, supervising and retaining Peterson.

For more:  http://hr.blr.com/HR-news/Discrimination/Sexual-Harassment/Sexual-harassment-Is-employer-liable-for-shift-lea

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