Just because you work in a classy establishment doesn’t mean you aren’t subject to sexual harassment. Six current and former female employees of the century old Plaza Hotel in New York City are alleging just that. During their time of employment, the plaintiffs claim that they were subject to inappropriate attention and consistent sexual harassment from male superiors. The swank hotel has been featured in movies such as Eloise at the Plaza and Home Alone. Four of the six women coming forth still currently work at the hotel as either bartenders, servers, or hospitality staff.
When Dana Lewis, a current employee of the hotel, was first hired, she was ecstatic to be a part of such an iconic hotel. A few days after she began her job as hospitality coordinator, however, the unwanted advances began pouring in. Like the last victim of sexual harassment we featured on the blog, Lewis felt she couldn’t just walk away from the job. She has a daughter and needed the money. And so, she accepted the harassment as part of the job (though that didn’t make it easier for her to endure.)
Another employee of the hotel, Crystal Washington, claims that her managers did nothing after she complained about the sexual harassment she was subjected to claiming that the Human Resources department even refused to investigate the matter.
Here is what we know about the allegations:
- Female employees were subject to unwarranted kissing and groping. In addition, they were forced to endure inappropriate advances from their male cohorts.
- Dana Lewis alleges that the general manager, Christian Floren, cornered her in a coat closet and kissed her on three separate occasions within the same day.
- When Lewis turned down Floren’s advances, he began crying, saying that he didn’t understand why she didn’t want him.
- Male employees used common objects such as cucumbers, bananas, and pens and turned them into phallic symbols whenever possible.
- A male food runner brought a cucumber and white sauce into work and told a female staff member she should dip the cucumber in the sauce because it had a lot of protein.
- A male server told a female staff member that he could tell she had sex last night.
- A male server told a female staff member that he wanted to “eat her pussy” before hugging her in the elevator.
- A male manager told a female staff member that he wanted to take her to the back to “fuck the shit” out of her.
- The same male manager bragged about his sexual conquests to his staff.
- When Washington complained, she was put on leave and other female staff members were encouraged to dress more conservatively to avoid the unwanted male attention.
Plaza Hotel’s parent company is Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. The company has denied the claims that the female staffers’ allegations were ignored. They released a statement ensuring that the safety and welfare of their guests and staff are their highest priorities and that any sexual harassment or discrimination aimed at employees or guests would never be tolerated. They went on further to say that they don’t retaliate against any employee who alleges sexual harassment.
Does this prove that an environment with sexual harassment is contagious if not stopped?
*image by Zoltan Kovacs