Company Refuses to Hire Predecessor's Non-Hispanic Staff and Fired an Employee Based on National Origin, Federal Agency Charges
WASHINGTON, D.C – Mount Vernon Holdings, LLC, the company that owns and operates Best Western Hotel-Mt. Vernon in Alexandria, Va., violated federal law by refusing to hire applicants based on their non-Hispanic national origin, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed yesterday.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Mount Vernon Holdings took over operations of the Best Western Hotel-Mt. Vernon in April 2007. At that time, Mayde Brooks, Linda Hartless and Edna Hayden were working in housekeeping positions at the hotel. The suit alleges that these three employees and other housekeepers at the hotel were told that they had to apply with Mount Vernon Holdings if they wanted to keep their jobs after the transfer of ownership.
The EEOC asserts that, although Hartless, Hayden and other non-Hispanic housekeepers applied to work for the successor company as housekeepers and were fully qualified for the positions, they were denied hire because of their non-Hispanic national origin. The suit also asserts that Brooks was discharged and that Brooks and at least one other non-Hispanic housekeeper were deterred from applying due to the actions of one of the company’s managers. Instead, EEOC says that Mount Vernon Holdings hired Hispanics for the positions formerly filled by these individuals.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to discharge or fail to hire individuals based on their national origin. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for Brooks, Hartless, Hayden and the other non-Hispanic applicants, as well as injunctive and other non-monetary relief. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Mt. Vernon Holdings, LLC, d/b/a Best Western-Mt. Vernon, Civil Action No. 1:09cv1099), after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.
“Employers should be aware that they cannot terminate or refuse to hire employees based on their national origin, and this lawsuit sends a message that the EEOC will not allow employers to discriminate based on their personal preference for people of a particular national origin,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office, whose jurisdiction includes the state of Virginia. “The EEOC is committed to ensuring that applicants have an equal opportunity in the workplace regardless of their ancestry or country of origin."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.