Marriott Must Check In to Harassment, Retaliation Trial

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By Jay-Anne B. Casuga

Nov. 2 — Marriott Hotel Services Inc. must go to trial to defend claims brought by a female Filipino hotel cashier who alleged she was fired after complaining about racial and sexual harassment ( Entrada v. Marriott Hotel Servs., Inc. , 2016 BL 364329, W.D. Okla., No. 15-322, 11/1/16 ).

Lorna Entrada presented adequate evidence to send her retaliation and harassment claims under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to a jury, Judge Robin J. Cauthron of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma ruled Nov. 1.

Entrada alleged, among other things, that male supervisors at Marriott’s National Center for Employee Development Conference Center and Hotel in Oklahoma forced her to give them hugs, commented on her breasts, suggested that they “hook up” and “enjoy each other” and asked if she “missed orgasms because she was single,” according to the opinion. She also claimed that other co-workers called her names such as “Filipino whore” and “fucking bitch.”

When she complained about the harassment, she alleged that a different supervisor either told her to “get over it” or issued her a written reprimand. Marriott argued that it fired Entrada according to company policy after she accumulated three reprimands within 12 months.

The allegations in the case support the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s contention earlier this year that harassment continues to be a persistent workplace problem. The agency released a report in June on the issue, noting that almost one-third of the approximately 90,000 private sector bias charges the EEOC receives each year include harassment allegations, mostly based on sex and race.

Court Looked Beyond Write-Ups, Attorney Says

One important aspect of the ruling is the court’s decision to not accept at face value Marriott’s explanation for terminating Entrada, Leah M. Roper, an attorney with Hammons, Gowens, Hurst & Associates in Oklahoma City, told Bloomberg BNA Nov. 2.

The court looked beyond the disciplinary write-ups and focused on who issued the reprimands, said Roper, one of the lawyers who represented Entrada.

Marriott asked the court to rule in its favor based on the reprimands Entrada received. But the court declined to do so because the disciplinary actions came from the same supervisor who allegedly ignored Entrada’s harassment complaints, Roper said.

Marriott representatives didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg BNA’s Nov. 2 request for comment.

Amber L. Hurst and Mark E. Hammons of Hammons, Gowens, Hurst & Associates also represented Entrada. Monica Y. Ybarra and Shannon K. Emmons of Phillips Murrah in Oklahoma City represented Marriott Hotel Services.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jay-Anne B. Casuga in Washington at jcasuga@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com

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