Employee lawsuit claims discrimination at Fairmont
Seven current and former employees are suing the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston and its parent company for discrimination, alleging that hotel managers treated them unfairly and failed to act when other workers verbally abused and physically threatened them because of their Moroccan descent and Muslim religious beliefs.
‘‘There became a pattern of harassment and after the attacks on Sept. 11, the level of harassment increased,’’ said Rahsaan Hall, an attorney with the nonprofit Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law of the Boston Bar Association, which filed the complaint against the Fairmont Copley yesterday in US District Court.
A spokeswoman for Fairmont Hotels and Resorts Inc., which runs the Fairmont Copley, referred questions about the case to a local representative from the hotel. However, that representative did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
According to the 71-page court filing, seven employees of Moroccan descent — all of whom are US citizens — repeatedly were disparaged by co-workers who called them ‘‘terrorists’’ and accused them of being members of the Taliban. In one instance, one of the employees was grabbed inappropriately by a hotel doorman. In another, during a meeting with several people, including a human resources director, the hotel’s general manager allegedly said: ‘‘I have two problems: the rats and the Moroccans. I took care of one and I can’t figure out the other.’’
The court filing also claims that the employees named in the case were denied promotions, made to work harder than their peers, and unfairly disciplined. The workes are suing the hotel for violating antidiscrimination laws and creating and tolerating a hostile work environment.
Five of the employees still work at the hotel. Two employees were ‘‘terminated unlawfully,’’ according to the court case. One employee was fired for allegedly making false accusations about another co-worker, even though the suit claims numerous other employees were not let go or disciplined for similar conduct. In another instance, a different employee was fired for allegedly threatening to terrorize the hotel — an accusation that is ‘‘blatantly false,’’ according to the filing.
This is not the first time the Fairmont company has been accused of mistreatment by employees. The company was sued in 2003 by Muslim and Arab-American employees at the Fairmont Plaza Hotel in New York City, who complained of discrimination following Sept. 11. Fairmont settled the case by paying $525,000 to a dozen workers and agreeing to provide additional anti-discrimination training.
Hall said his clients are hoping to require the hotel to do more training. They are also hoping to collect damages, back pay and future pay, and court costs, according to the court filing.
Material from the Associated Press is used in this report.