Washington. Hotels pay $370,000 to settle sexual harassment lawsuit

The owners of a Seattle-area hotel have agreed to pay $370,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that accused the owners of allowing a manager to harass two housekeepers .

GIPHX10 LLC and Jaffer Inc., two Canadian companies based in Edmonton, have entered into a consent decree that also requires them to retain the services of an independent consultant to help them develop policies and procedures to recognize and prevent sexual harassment and retaliation, the EEOC said in a statement. out on Wednesday.

The companies operated Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham, located near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Kent, Washington.

The EEOC said a hotel maintenance manager groped women when they were alone cleaning hotel rooms, made fun of them for opposing assaults, made sexually explicit comments and repeatedly threatened a worker with rape. One of the women quit out of fear for her safety.

One of the housekeepers reported the harassment to the general manager with the help of a bilingual colleague. The owners failed to conduct a thorough investigation and accepted the manager’s denials, the EEOC said. The general manager then retaliated against the housekeeper by reducing her working hours and denying her an hourly increase given to other housekeepers.

Both women joined the EEOC lawsuit and filed additional claims under state law.

“We have seen the risk of workplace harassment increase when there is a large power difference, when the targeted employee may be isolated and when employees have limited English proficiency, as noted in the task force EEOC Restricted Study of Harassment in the Workplace. said Nancy Sienko, EEOC San Francisco district manager. “Employers must ensure that workers receive information about harassment policies in a way and in a language they understand, which in this case would have been in Spanish.”

The EEOC said the consent decree also requires hotel owners to implement company-wide training, including investigation training for managers and owners with an active management role. . The agency will monitor the workplace for the three-year period that the consent decree remains in effect.

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