On behalf of California Employment Counsel, APC on Tuesday, March 5, 2019.
Out of all the industries affected by the #MeToo movement, few have been making headlines as much as popular hotel chains. Many employees have suffered for years from disgusting guests and coworkers and have had their complaints unanswered. It’s easier to get away with sexual harassment and misconduct since there are so many more rooms and space than your typical workplace.
It isn’t just the housekeepers and chefs who constantly deal with uncomfortable situations. Over half of male and female massage therapists claim they’ve experienced unwanted sexual advances from their clients. Professionals in the industry are also upset that it’s gotten to the point where many people often compare it to prostitution. A recent story centered around a lawsuit against a San Diego resort demonstrates how this continues to be an issue in California.
Is the customer always right?
On February 26, 2019, two former massage therapists at a popular San Diego resort and spa filed a lawsuit against their employer for allowing VIP clients to continue coming despite their complaints. Some of these male customers often purposefully exposed themselves and made inappropriate sexual advances and requests to the workers. The hotel temporarily banned them, but they came back months later to request services from the same traumatized workers.
The suit claims that the therapists filed complaints to their employers once more, but in the process discovered that the hotel intentionally deleted some of their previous complaints because the disrespectful guests were “high-profile guests.” The hotel fired one of the therapists without notifying them for months while the other eventually quit due to the poor working conditions.
Will the work environment improve?
Several major hotel chains are considering giving panic buttons to their staff to use in case a client is harassing them. While these have also been proposed in local California hotels, there is also some resistance on the matter. Even though these panic buttons will primarily help housekeepers, massage therapists could also benefit from getting emergency assistance quickly.
For now, hotels need to be increasingly aware of the dangers that all of their staff face. An employee’s safety shouldn’t come second place to inviting a reckless individual just to make a quick buck. If you or a loved one have had harassment issues while working in a hotel, consider what legal options you have at your disposal to assist in your recovery.