Resort Subjected Hispanic Banquet Workers to Harassment and Discriminatory Discipline, Then Fired Those Who Complained, Federal Agency Charges
SAN ANTONIO, Texas - The operators of the La Cantera Resort and Spa in San Antonio violated federal law by subjecting Hispanic banquet staff to a hostile work environment based on national origin and retaliated against its workers who opposed a restrictive language policy, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today. La Cantera's operators are DH San Antonio Management, LLC and Destination Hotels and Resorts, LLC, collectively known as Destination.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, after taking control of the resort, Destination's new managers subjected at least 25 identified Hispanic banquet employees to verbal abuse and severe mistreatment because of their national origin. Destination's managers also implemented and harshly enforced a policy forbidding banquet staff from speaking Spanish anywhere at the resort, at any time, the EEOC said, while permitting members of other national origin groups to speak their native languages. The lawsuit alleges that when banquet employees raised concerns about these practices, the employer retaliated against the banquet servers with adverse actions, including termination, and replaced them with non-Hispanic employees.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on national origin, including harassment and retaliation. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division (EEOC v. DH San Antonio Management, LLC. et al., Civil Action No. 5:18-cv-00990) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process.
The lawsuit asks the court to order Destination to provide the banquet servers with appropriate relief, including compensatory and punitive damages, reinstatement, and an order enjoining the company from engaging in any further discriminatory practices. The EEOC also asks the court to order the company to institute and carry out policies and practices that eradicate and prevent national origin harassment and retaliation in the workplace.
"Employers have a duty to provide a workplace that is free from the sort of pervasive demeaning treatment based on national origin that occurred here," said Philip Moss, a trial attorney in the EEOC's San Antonio Field Office. "The EEOC is committed to stopping workplace harassment and to protecting employees who are retaliated against for opposing discrimination in the workplace."
EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Eduardo Juarez said, "After banquet servers spoke up about the language policy, managers embarked on a course of retaliatory firings and demotions resulting in the resorts' predominantly Hispanic banquet captains being replaced with non-Hispanic workers."
EEOC Regional Attorney Robert A. Canino added, "Imposing a language policy -- together with demeaning references to Hispanic workers - strongly indicates workplace prejudice rather than a legitimate business need."
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.