The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

PRESS RELEASE
9-28-09

EEOC FILES CLASS NATIONAL ORIGIN HARASSMENT SUIT AGAINST HILTON HOTEL IN CHICAGO SUBURB

Lisle/Naperville Hilton Subjected Hispanics to Ethnic Slurs, Federal Agency Charges

CHICAGO – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit Friday against Fireside West, LLC, doing business as the Hilton in Lisle/Naperville, Ill., charging that the hotel violated Title VII by subjecting its Hispanic employees to a hostile work environment. The EEOC’s complaint said that the hotel subjected Hispanic employees to frequent ethnic slurs from the hotel’s executive chef.

The EEOC’s lawsuit, in U.S. District Court in Chicago (Civil Action 09-CV-05979, assigned to District Judge James B. Zagel and Magistrate Judge Maria G. Valdez), arose out of charges of discrimination filed with the EEOC by two former employees of the hotel. The EEOC’s administrative investigation which preceded the lawsuit, supervised by EEOC Chicago District Director John Rowe, revealed that the executive chef would allegedly openly refer to Hispanic employees under his supervision with derogatory terms such as “wetbacks,” “f----ing Mexicans,” and “stupid Mexicans.”

“Employees should never have to put up with such humiliation and ridicule on the job,” said EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru. “If employers learn about harassment like this happening in their workplaces and simply look the other way, they will face serious legal repercussions for doing so.”

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including sexual harassment or pregnancy) or national origin and protects employees who complain about such offenses from retaliation. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through the agency’s statutory conciliation process. EEOC Trial Attorney Laurie Elkin will lead the federal agency’s litigation effort.

EEOC regional attorney for the Chicago District, John Hendrickson, said, “Under Title VII, companies have a responsibility to protect employees from the kind of discrimination evident in the hostile, demeaning, and abusive behavior alleged to have occurred in this case. The nation’s promise of equal opportunity cannot be kept if employees are harassed because of their national origin.”

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 discrimination in employment. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.


This page was last modified on September 28, 2009.

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