The DoubleTree Hotel in Jefferson City will pay $45,000 and furnish other relief to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Vinca Enterprises Inc., which operates the DoubleTree, violated federal law when it allowed a male room inspector to sexually harass a female housekeeper, according to the EEOC's lawsuit.
Specifically, the EEOC claimed, Vinca 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, according to the EEOC.
The EEOC's suit claimed that although management and an owner were aware of the inspector's unwelcome comments and behavior, Vinca Enterprises 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 in federal court Tuesday, 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," said Andrea Baran, the EEOC's regional attorney in St. Louis. "Unfortunately, housekeeping employees at hotels are particularly vulnerable to such harassment and often believe they have no recourse."
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.