La Quinta And Best Western Sued For Harassment

EEOC Says Manager Verbally Abused Female Employees for Reasons of Race, Sex, Pregnancy and Religion

SEATTLE — Hotel group Pacific Hospitality violated federal law when it permitted a general manager to harass a group of female employees working at La Quinta-Federal Way and Best Western Tacoma Dome, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.

The federal agency alleged the general manager ridiculed employees, made demeaning comments about women in general and at least one African-American mother in particular and belittled employees for their faith in God. For example, he called Jennifer Watson, an African-American employed as a front desk clerk at La Quinta-Federal Way, a ‘welfare mother’ and implied that she should abort her pregnancy, according to the EEOC. Operations Manager Dana Miller and other female employees at the Best Western Tacoma Dome faced inappropriate comments about their physical appearance and personal lives, as wells as intimidation through yelling, fist pounding and graphic threats of physical violence. Many employees at both hotels felt they had no option but to quit, the EEOC said.

Harassment of employees based on their race, sex, pregnancy or religion violates Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964. After first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through conciliation, the EEOC filed the lawsuit (EEOC v. Pacific Hospitality, LLC, formerly d/b/a La Quinta Inn Federal Way and Seasons Hotel, d/b/a Best Western Tacoma Dome Hotel, CV-10-5715-BHS) in U.S. District Court for the District of Washington, and seeks monetary damages on behalf of Watson, Miller and other female victims, training on anti-discrimination laws, posting of notices at the work site and other injunctive relief.

“This manager’s unchecked abuse of power devastated the lives of workers in two workplaces, and interfered with their ability to provide for themselves and their families,” said Luis Lucero, director for the EEOC’s Seattle Field Office, which investigated this case. “ By law, employers must protect their workers and take responsibility for the actions of their management.”

“No one should be forced to choose between personal dignity and their livelihood,” said EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo, whose office has jurisdiction over Washington State. “The EEOC will vigorously champion the right of all workers to a workplace free from discrimination and harassment.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Additional information about the EEOC is available on its web site at