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PRESS RELEASE
9-30-11

Pioneer Hotel Sued by EEOC for Harassment of Latinos, Retaliation

Latino Room Attendants Subjected to Racial Remarks, One Fired After Complaining

LAS VEGAS—Pioneer Hotel, Inc., a popular hotel and casino in Laughlin, Nev., violated federal law when it failed to stop the harassment of a class of Latino room attendants and retaliated against those who reported it, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

Since at least 2006, a class of Latino room attendants were repeatedly subject to offensive, derogatory comments about their national origin and the color of their skin, according to the EEOC. Fellow room attendants allegedly referred to Latinos as “taco bell,” “bean burrito,” and “f—king aliens,” while supervisors also allegedly used harsh racial epithets. Although the harassment was reported to management officials as early as 2006, complaints were met with reprisal resulting at least one Latino room attendant losing his job. The company failed to take effective action to prevent or correct the harassment, asserts the EEOC.

After attempts to reach a pre-litigation settlement failed, the EEOC filed its lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, District of Nevada (EEOC v. Pioneer Hotel d/b/a Pioneer Hotel and Gambling Hall, Case No. 2:11-cv-01588-LRH-RJJ), alleging that the harassment of Latino workers based on national origin and color and the ensuing retaliation violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In its lawsuit, the EEOC seeks all available relief under Title VII including back pay, compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of the victims. The EEOC is also seeking substantial injunctive relief remedies to ensure that future instances of harassment and retaliation are prevented or dealt with appropriately.

“We continue to see problems in the hotel and gaming industry in Nevada with respect to harassment and retaliation,” said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, which includes southern Nevada in its jurisdiction. “Employers must take such civil rights abuses seriously and work toward either preventing instances from occurring in the first place or taking immediate and corrective action to ensure that the hostile work environment is quashed.”

“In a disturbing trend, retaliation became the number one type of charge received by the EEOC last year,” said Lucy Orta, local director for the EEOC’s Las Vegas Local Office. “The EEOC is sending the message that workers absolutely have the right to report instances of harassment or discrimination without being subject to reprisal from their employer.”

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