Press Release 08-05-2020

Doubletree Hotel to Pay $45,000 and Change Policies and Procedures to Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Federal Agency Charged Male Room Inspector Sexually Harassed Female Housekeeper

ST. LOUIS – The DoubleTree Hotel in Jefferson City, Mo. will pay $45,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, an operator of the DoubleTree Hotel in Jefferson City violated federal law when it allowed a male room inspector to sexually harass a female housekeeper. Specifically, the EEOC alleges that Vinca Enterprises, Inc., which operates this DoubleTree Hotel in Missouri’s capital city, failed to stop the room inspector from regularly making offensive sexual comments and engaging in unwanted physical contact with a female house­keeper.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment and retaliation for reporting it. The EEOC’s suit filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Vinca Enterprises, Inc., Civil Action No. 2:20-cv-04021-NKL) alleges that although management and an owner were aware of the inspector’s unwelcome comments and behavior, Vinca failed to investigate or take appropriate action to stop the unlawful harassment and protect the employee.

The two-year consent decree settling the suit, entered by Judge Nanette K. Laughrey, requires Vinca Enterprises to pay compensatory damages to the housekeeper. In addition, Vinca Enterprises will take steps to prevent future discrimination and harassment against employees. Vinca will hire a consultant to assess workplace risk factors associated with sexual harassment; report the consultant’s findings to the EEOC; implement stronger policies and procedures prohibiting sexual harassment and discrimination; provide all employees with and clear guidance on sexual harassment; establish investigation procedures; and report sexual harassment complaints to the EEOC.

“Employers are responsible for preventing workplace harassment. Unfortunately, housekeeping employees at hotels are particularly vulnerable to such harassment and often believe they have no recourse,” said Andrea G. Baran, the EEOC’s Regional Attorney in St. Louis. “Sexual harassment is unlawful and bad for business.”

L. Jack Vasquez, director of the EEOC’s St. Louis District office, said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The EEOC is committed to preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. But when harassment does occur, we encourage affected employees to report the harassment to their employers and, if necessary, to the EEOC to ensure the unlawful conduct does not continue.”

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination, including sexual harassment. The St. Louis District office oversees Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and a portion of southern Illinois.

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.