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B.F. Saul Companies and Hospitality Group Sued by EEOC for Disability Discrimination

Companies Unlawfully Fired Woman After She Was Diagnosed With Breast Cancer, Federal Agency Charges

WASHINGTON - The B.F. Saul group of real estate companies violated federal law when they fired a female employee after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed on September 28, 2017.

B.F. Saul Company, B.F. Saul Hospitality Group, and B.F. Saul Property Company constitute a group of privately owned real estate companies that own and operate business-class hotels that are branded under franchise agreements with Marriott International and others.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, B.F. Saul hired Naila Sikander in May 2015 as an area sales manager servicing two Marriott hotels managed by B.F. Saul and its hotel division executives. The EEOC alleges that in December 2015, B.F. Saul became aware that Sikander had been diagnosed with breast cancer. The EEOC alleges that Sikander told B.F. Saul that she would undergo breast cancer surgery, and that her surgery was scheduled to take place on March 8, 2016. According to the complaint, the company refused to grant Sikander reasonable accommodations; instead, the company fired Sikander just one week before she was scheduled to undergo breast cancer surgery.

The EEOC said that on March 1, 2016, B.F. Saul's corporate vice president of human resources told Sikander that she was being fired because it would take too long for her to get better. On the following day, management told Sikander that she needed to leave the workplace and then escorted her out of the building, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits disability discrimination unless an accommodation would cause an undue hardship. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. B.F. Saul Company, B.F. Saul Hospitality Group, and B.F. Saul Property Company., Case No. 8:17-cv-02879-RWT, in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its administrative conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking permanent injunctive relief prohibiting B.F. Saul from discriminating against employees because of disability in the future, lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages and other relief.

"Instead of accommodating Ms. Sikander, this employer fired her just one week before she was scheduled to undergo breast cancer surgery," said Mindy E. Weinstein, acting director of the EEOC's Washington Field Office. "After Ms. Sikander reached out to a hotel division executive for help, she was told to leave the workplace and escorted out of the building. It is reprehensible to fire a woman because she has breast cancer. The EEOC stands ready to enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act, and to obtain relief for Ms. Sikander and other cancer victims who suffer disability discrimination in the workplace."

Philadelphia District Office Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence said, "Women with breast cancer often have to endure invasive and exhausting procedures to battle the disease. They should not also have to battle an employer who would rather fire a cancer victim than accommodate her. Firing a woman because she has breast cancer is an appalling violation of the ADA."

The Washington Field Office has jurisdiction over the District of Columbia and the Virginia counties of Arlington, Clarke, Fairfax, Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun, Prince William, Stafford and Warren; and the independent Virginia cities of Alexandria, Fairfax City, Falls Church, Manassas, Manassas Park and Winchester.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.