Supervisors at Downtown Chicago Hotel Harassed, Then Fired Worker, Federal Agency Charged
CHICAGO – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that Swissotel will pay $90,000 under a consent decree entered by the federal district court here to resolve a harassment and wrongful termination lawsuit brought by the EEOC on behalf of a developmentally disabled adult.
The EEOC charged in its suit that Swissotel violated the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) by permitting two supervisors at its downtown Chicago hotel to harass the employee because of his developmental disability. Specifically, the EEOC said, the employee was repeatedly called “retarded” by his supervisors. Further, the EEOC charged, Swissotel then terminated the employee because of his disability.
In addition to paying $90,000, Swissotel is required under the consent decree settling the suit to give ADA training to all of its Chicago-based employees, post a notice of the settlement at its Chicago hotel, and report to the EEOC complaints of harassment or disability discrimination and any actions taken as a result of the complaints.
The lawsuit, entitled EEOC v. Swissotel Employment Services, L.L.C and Swissotel Chicago, Inc., No. 08-5131 (N.D. Ill.), was filed on September 9, 2008. The case was assigned to District Court Judge Dow and Magistrate Judge Nolan. The EEOC filed suit after an administrative investigation managed by EEOC Chicago District Director John Rowe found reasonable cause to believe that the ADA had been violated, and after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through the agency’s conciliation process.
The consent decree was entered by Judge Robert M. Dow Jr. on June 30, 2009.
“Disability-based harassment, just like other forms of discriminatory workplace harassment, is against federal law and is tolerated by employers at their peril,” said John Hendrickson, regional attorney in the EEOC’s Chicago District Office. “The epithet directed at the employee in this case was offensive and derogatory – really, when you think about it, heartbreaking. There’s no room for such talk in today’s workplace – nor for putting employees on the street because of their disabilities. So we’re pleased that, in this consent decree, Swissotel is stepping up to ensure that overdue changes are being made.”
The government’s litigation effort was led by EEOC Supervisory Trial Attorney Diane I. Smason and Trial Attorney Aaron R. DeCamp.
According to company information, the Zurich, Switzerland-based Swissotel chain has more than 25 hotels in over 20 destinations worldwide.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.
The EEOC 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.
This page was last modified on July 7, 2009.
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