Denver’s Brown Palace Hotel fined US$105,000 in discrimination lawsuit

DENVER The Denver Hotel Management Co., owner of Denver’s luxury Brown Palace Hotel, has agreed to pay US$105,000 to settle a sex discrimination case filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC charged that the company refused to promote a single mother because she had children.

According to the EEOC lawsuit, the woman was denied promotion to a newly created position of assistant human resource director because of her caregiver responsibilities as the mother of two young children, and the job was given to a less qualified and less experienced employee.  The managers explained to the woman that she was being passed over for the job because of her role as a mother of young children, asserting that she could not relocate or work the required 50- to 60-hour work week because she “had a full-time job at home with her children.”

The EEOC claims the woman was never asked if she would be willing to relocate or work extended hours.

Discrimination based on stereotypical views of a woman’s caregiver status is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In addition to the fine, Denver Hotel Management agrees to revamp its discrimination policies and conduct training for all of its employees to explain how stereotypes concerning a person’s family responsibilities can constitute illegal sex discrimination. The company has not admitted guilt in the case, despite the settlement.

“We are pleased with the initiatives that DHMC has agreed to in this settlement,” says Rayford Irvin, director of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office. “We look forward to seeing its efforts to promote individuals into management positions without basing its decisions on illegal, stereotyped assumptions about a caregiver’s ability to balance the competing demands in that person’s life.”

At the time of the EEOC’s initial filing, Brown Palace General Manager Marcel Pitton called the allegations unfounded. “The Brown Palace Hotel is an equal opportunity employer and maintains a workplace free of unlawful discrimination,” Pitton said in July. “We are proud of our diverse workforce and the talent of our staff in delivering exceptional hospitality.”