Employees sue the Plaza hotel alleging rampant sexual harassment
Archivio J. Lange/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Six current and former female employees of the iconic Plaza Hotel are suing the New York City landmark, alleging in court documents filed Tuesday that while working at the hotel, they were subject to “outrageous and incessant sexual harassment and assault by senior management and their male counterparts.”
“It’s a never-ending nightmare,” Dana Lewis, a current employee of The Plaza, told ABC News. “I have the right to just go to work and do my job. … There’s no excuse for any of it.”
Lewis said she was “excited” when she first got the job at the more-than-a-century-old hotel, which was highlighted in movies such as Eloise at the Plaza and Home Alone.
“It’s a place that I’ve dreamed about visiting as a child,” Lewis added.
She said the unwanted advances began happening within days of when she started working at the hotel in November 2016, telling ABC News, “I tried to ignore it at first, hoping that it would stop.”
Lewis said the sexual misconduct from her colleagues soon “became a part of the job.”
“I’m a single mother. I have a 10-year-old daughter. I felt like I didn’t have much of a choice. I needed the job,” Lewis said, when asked why she would not leave.
The hospitality coordinator, who returns to work just days after filing the lawsuit, said she felt “nervous” about the lawsuit, but added that the environment “couldn’t be any worse than what it already is.”
Crystal Washington, also a current employee of the hotel, alleges in the lawsuit that managers did nothing after she complained about sexual harassment from colleagues, and the human resources department refused to investigate.
Washington told ABC News this fostered an environment where the harassment continued, telling ABC News of her harassers that “when they’re not properly reprimanded, then they will continue with the behavior.”
“Leaving was not an option for me. I feel like they should leave, not me,” she added. “I haven’t done anything wrong.”
Washington said she is hoping for “some sort of justice” to come out of the lawsuit.
The Plaza Hotel’s parent company, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, denied the claims that sexual harassment allegations were ignored, telling ABC News in a statement that “the safety and welfare of our guests and staff is always our highest priority. Any attempt at harassment or discrimination toward our colleagues and guests has not and never will be tolerated.”
“We take all claims of harassment or discrimination seriously, take appropriate remedial action where warranted, and do not retaliate against any staff member who raises a claim of harassment or discrimination in good faith,” the hotels group added, saying that they could not go into further details due to the pending litigation.
Washington said she is hoping to “create a platform for the other women” that “are not standing up, that are not speaking right now.”
“And when you’re ready — when they’re ready — to come forward, I’ll do it with them,” Washington added.
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