Harassment suit filed against Resort at Squaw Creek’s management company
Tribune News Service
OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. – A federal lawsuit filed Thursday against Destination Resorts & Hotels alleges a former female employee at The Resort at Squaw Creek was sexually harassed and that the nationwide property management company retaliated against her.
According to a Thursday press release from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – a federal enforcement agency prohibiting employment discrimination – the suit was filed on behalf of Shira Garfinkel, a bartender and banquet server at The Resort at Squaw Creek from 2005-2007. It alleges a male co-worker of Garfinkel’s harassed her through unwelcome touching, persistent relationship requests, threats and home invasion.
The suit also alleges DR&H – which manages the resort – violated federal law when it retaliated against Garfinkel for reporting the alleged harassment.
“Even after the harasser threatened me and broke into my house, my employer did not take it seriously,” said Garfinkel, according to the press release. “I kept begging the company to do something to protect me. Instead of taking action against the harasser, I was the one who suffered consequences. I felt punished for speaking out.”
Phone calls to DR&H were not immediately returned Thursday for comment.
Although Garfinkel allegedly asked to be scheduled to work away from the harasser, EEOC attorneys said their investigation showed the employer’s efforts were haphazard and failed to remedy the situation.
Garfinkel made repeated complaints to management and obtained a restraining order in court, according to the lawsuit; Garfinkel’s attorneys said DR&H’s response was assigning Garfinkel to another location, with a loss in hours and seniority, while the alleged harasser kept his position with no changes in seniority or benefits.
Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sexual harassment as well as retaliation against an employee for reporting it, according to EEOC.
After first attempting to reach a settlement, EEOC filed the lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. It seeks monetary damages on behalf of Garfinkel. It also seeks training on anti-discrimination laws and other steps by DR&H.
“Employers have a responsibility to protect their employees from harassment, whether by a supervisor or co-worker or even a non-employee,” said EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William Tamayo.
According to company information, DR&H manages more than $2.2 billion in assets, The Resort at Squaw Creek one of its many managed properties.
EEOC San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado said in the release more than a third of all charges seen by EEOC involve retaliation, and that, for the first time, retaliation under all statutes surpassed race as the most frequently filed charge in fiscal year 2010.
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