The Plaza Hotel, over its 100-year history, has become a New York City icon. Its guests include political dignitaries and world-renowned entertainers; however, a recent lawsuit filed by current and former female employees portrays a very different side to the hotel’s culture.
Six female staff workers of the hotel filed a New York City sexual harassment lawsuit against their employer. The complaint alleges that, under the New York City Human Rights Law, the women were subjected to unwanted touching and lewd remarks from their supervisors and co-workers. Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges that hotel management were made aware of the offensive behavior but ignored the plaintiffs’ concerns. Although the lawsuit against the Plaza Hotel is shocking, sadly, the existence of sexual harassment is not uncommon in the hotel industry. For instance, the owners of a Holiday Inn Express in South Carolina paid $90,000 to settle an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) claim, which alleged that the hotel subjected its female workers to sexual harassment. In addition, a recent report claims that 8 in 10 hotel workers have been harassed at work. Although the hotel management disputes the plaintiffs’ claims, the lawsuit is moving forward, and the plaintiffs plan to file an EEOC charge under federal law.
Federal law makes it illegal for an employer to treat someone differently because of that person’s sex, among other traits. The provisions related to sex discrimination not only prohibit explicit discrimination, such as firing an employee because of that person’s sex, but also prohibit more subtle forms of discrimination against an employee. In addition, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other comments or actions targeted at a person’s sex constitute “sexual harassment.” The person or people committing the harassment can be a co-worker, a direct supervisor, or a supervisor in another department. When harassment is brought to the attention of the employer, the employer may be responsible for addressing the issue. If not, the employer might not be free from liability, even if they are not involved in the harassment.
The Plaza Hotel workers’ lawsuit alleges specific instances in which co-workers made lewd comments and engaged in inappropriate touching against the plaintiffs. The allegations include a supervisor forcing an employee into a hallway closet and inappropriately kissing the employee as well as male employees lodging graphic sexual remarks at their female co-workers. The plaintiffs initially brought their concerns to hotel management, but their claims were brushed aside, the lawsuit alleges. One plaintiff described her work environment as “hell” and a “never-ending nightmare.” Following her complaint to hotel management, one of the plaintiffs was allegedly placed on leave, and others were allegedly told to dress more conservatively to avoid the men’s attention.
The experienced and skilled sexual harassment lawyers at Phillips & Associates advocate for the rights of job seekers, employees, and former employees in New York City in claims of sexual harassment and other unlawful practices. To schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case, contact us today online or at (212) 248-7431.
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