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PRESS RELEASE
9-30-15

EEOC Sues John Q. Hammons Hotel Management for Race Harassment

Operator of Normal, Ill., Marriott Hotel Failed to Stop Repeated Racial Comments, Federal Agency Charges

PEORIA, Ill. - John Q. Hammons Hotel Management violated federal civil rights laws by failing to stop a pattern of offensive racial comments and conduct directed at black employees at a Normal, Ill., Marriott Hotel that the company operates, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.  According to its website, the company is the largest private independent owner and hotel management company in the United States, managing 69 hotels in 24 states.

According to Julianne Bowman, the EEOC's district director in Chicago, the EEOC's pre-suit administrative investigation revealed that black employees at the hotel were subjected to repeated racial slurs, comments about slavery, and other offensive conduct.  The investigation revealed, for example, that one black employee was told, "Thank you for your contribution to America for picking all that cotton."  Although the company was aware that racial harassment was occurring at the hotel, it took little or no action to stop it. 

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits workplace discrimination (including harassment) on the basis of race.  The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.  The case, EEOC v. John Q. Hammons Hotel Management LLC, Civil Action No. 15 cv 1415, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois, Peoria Division, and was assigned to U.S. District Judge Michael H. Mihm.  The government's litigation effort will be led by Trial Attorney Justin Mulaire and supervised by EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Gregory Gochanour.

"As soon as an employer becomes aware of any kind of discriminatory harassment in the workplace, the employer must act - and must act promptly," said John Hendrickson, EEOC's regional attorney in Chicago.  "That is the law, and the EEOC will hold employers accountable if they if they don't live up to that responsibility."

The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.