Extended Stay Hotels agreed to pay $75,800 in settlement of a pay bias lawsuit in which a female employee was paid less than male employees. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (“EEOC”) suit, Extended Stay Hotels paid Latoya Weaver less than male guest services representatives, including some newly hired male guest services representatives, at the hotel’s Lexington Park, Maryland, location. The EEOC further charged that Extended Stay Hotels unlawfully paid other female employees lower wages than those paid to male employees for performing equal work.
The conduct alleged above violates the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. HVM L.L.C., D/B/A Extended Stay Hotels, Civil Action No. 8:13-cv-01980) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Greenbelt Division, after first attempting to reach a voluntary pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In the conciliation process, EEOC investigators work with the employee and the employer to negotiate a mutually agreeable remedy to the alleged act of employment discrimination. “Conciliation” provides an opportunity to lessen the impact of the harsh feelings involved in an employment discrimination complaint and to avoid or lessen costs of representation of the employer in the case before the EEOC.
When Conciliation does not result in a settlement between the complainant and the employer, the commission decides whether to litigate the charge against the employer or to dismiss the complaint. If the EEOC decides to file an employment discrimination case in federal court, the EEOC represents the employee, and the employer defends against the charges.
If the EEOC determines that there is no reasonable cause to believe that discrimination occurred, the charging party will be issued a Dismissal and Notice of Rights letter that informs the charging party of the right to file a lawsuit, without EEOC involvement, in federal court within 90 days from the date of receipt of the letter. The employer will also receive a copy of this document.
In addition to the $75,800 in monetary relief to Weaver and three other class members, the two-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit enjoins Extended Stay Hotels from engaging in wage discrimination based on sex in the future. The hotel chain will provide annual training on federal anti-discrimination laws, report to the EEOC about its handling of any wage discrimination claims and post a notice on the Weaver settlement.
If you are an “employer” in the hospitality industry it is very likely that you have heard of cases involving employees who have sued their employers for discrimination, harassment, wage and hour violations or labor law violations. You could be next.