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PRESS RELEASE
5-6-11

Suburban Chicago Hilton to Pay $195,000 to Resolve EEOC National Origin Harassment Suit

Agency Says Exec Chef Subjected Hispanic Kitchen Employees to Slurs and Insults

CHICAGO – The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that a federal judge has entered a $195,000 consent decree to resolve a national origin harassment lawsuit brought by the agency against the Hilton Lisle/Naperville Hotel in Lisle, Ill.

In its lawsuit, EEOC charged that the Hilton Lisle/Naperville violated federal law by subjecting Hispanic employees in the hotel kitchen to offensive comments. Specifically, the EEOC charged that the hotel’s executive chef regularly referred to Hispanic employees as “s--cs” and “wetbacks.”

National origin discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit, captioned EEOC v. Fireside West, LLC d/b/a Hilton Lisle/Naperville, No. 09 cv-5979, on Sept. 28, 2009 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The three-year consent decree resolving the suit, approved by District Judge Edmund Chang yesterday, May 5, 2011, provides that $195,000 in monetary relief, which includes attorney’s fees, be distributed among two employees who filed charges of discrimination with EEOC and another additional employee.

The decree also requires the Hilton Lisle/Naperville to report any further complaints of retaliation or national origin harassment to the EEOC. The decree requires remedial training for all employees at the hotel, and mandates that the executive chef, who was alleged to have engaged in the harassment of Hispanic kitchen employees, receive personal anti-discrimination training. The decree includes an injunction prohibiting further discrimination on the basis of national origin and barring retaliation for reporting or complaining about discrimination.

“Federal law clearly requires employers to take prompt remedial action when they learn of harassment,” said John Hendrickson, regional attorney for the EEOC in Chicago. “In this case, the EEOC was prepared to show that not only did multiple employees report the harassment, but also that the executive chef himself acknowledged doing it. That’s not acceptable, and it’s not legal.”

EEOC trial attorney Aaron DeCamp added, “Over the next three years, EEOC will keep a close eye on how the Hilton Lisle/Naperville implements the consent decree to make certain these issues do not recur.”

In addition to Hendrickson and DeCamp, the case was litigated by Supervisory Trial Attorney Greg Gochanour and Trial Attorney Laurie Elkin. The EEOC Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.