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Female workers settle harassment suit with hotel groups

Laws protect employees from co-workers or bosses guilty of discrimination and harassment. However, some California workers endure workplace miseries, including sexual harassment and discrimination, for fear of repercussions or because they do not know how to protect their rights. What workers need to understand is that harassment and discrimination is illegal in the workplace and laws are meant to protect workers from retaliation when they do raise concerns about illegal behaviors or actions.

There are many employers who comply with state and federal labor and employment laws when it comes to addressing workers' complaints about harassment and discrimination. But there are also many instances in which employers ignore employees' concerns. In these situations, a hostile work environment might never change until employees take legal action to protect their rights.

Recently, a federal lawsuit was pursued against Pacific Hospitality and Seasons Hotel for mistreating female employees over a period of several years. As a result of the lawsuit, important changes will now be made to improve working conditions for all female hotel employees who work at the companies' hotels.

According to the lawsuit, the head of two Best Western hotels allegedly screamed at female employees and made relentless, disparaging comments to the workers about their race, sex, religion and pregnancies. The manager was accused of criticizing some of the employees' religious beliefs and firing five women after they became pregnant. The suit claimed the staff manager even threw a stapler at the head of a female employee. These issues were never addressed by the manager's employer.

Last week, a court-enforced consent decree ordered the hotel chain to pay $365,000 to almost a dozen women. The hotel groups agreed to fire the general manager of the two Best Western hotels and to rehire two of the female workers who were wrongfully terminated. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will also watch the hotel chain carefully during the next four years to make sure it establishes a department of human resources, conducts anti-discrimination training, and becomes receptive to employee complaints.

According to the government's claim, the general manager had degraded female workers for years. By banding together and seeking legal representation, the female workers have raised awareness about important issues and concerns that should have been addressed by their manager's employer years ago.

Source: University Place Patch, "Best Western Tacoma Dome Owner Settles Federal Harassment Lawsuit From EEOC," Brent Champaco, July 5, 2012