$1,020,000 Settlement in Sexual Harassment and National Origin Discrimination Lawsuit Brought Against Resort and Its Management Company, Training Ordered

Monday, February 15, 2016

Question:  Would sexual harassment training have prevented this case?  See our trainings at http://www.hrclassroom.com.

Vail Run Community Resort Association, Inc., a condominium complex in Vail, Colo., and its management company, Global Hospitality Resorts, Inc., will pay $1,020,000 as part of the settlement of a sexual harassment, national origin discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

EEOC's suit charged that Vail Run Resort violated federal law by allow­ing a housekeeping manager, Omar Quezada, to sexually harass Mexican female employees, including attempted rape. EEOC further alleged the defendants retaliated against men and women who complained about the harassment to management and the owner.

According to EEOC's suit, Quezada repeatedly spoke about sex, propositioned female employees, showed them graphic sexual pictures on his phone and groped and physically assaulted his victims, including attempted rape. Quezada targeted Mexican immigrants who were particularly vulnerable, threatening them with job loss and deportation if they refused his advances, complained about him, or went to the police.

When workers nevertheless complained to management, they were met with anger and indif­ference, according to EEOC allegations. EEOC said William Fleischer, Vail Run's general manager, and the companies never undertook an internal investiga­tion after the complaints, made no effort to reduce Quezada's supervisorial powers, and refused to discipline him.

EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Vail Run Resort Community Association, Inc. d/b/a Vail Run Resort, et al., Civil Action No. 1:15-cv-01592-RPM) in U.S. District Court for Colorado after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The same victims also sought help from the Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD), the local agency in charge of enforcing state anti-discrimination laws. CCRD conducted the initial investigation and made an administrative finding in favor of the two victims. When it was determined that there were additional victims, the case was transferred to EEOC, which did further investigation, issued its own cause determination and ultimately filed a lawsuit.

In addition to requiring the company to pay monetary damages to the former employees, the consent decree settling the suit provides for a Spanish-speaking monitor for up to five years to oversee the decree's implementation, which includes substantial semi-annual training for managers on sexual harassment and the responsibilities of managers once a report of sexual harassment is made. The monitor will also routinely interview employees to determine if any discrimination exists and review all emp­loyee complaints of discrimination or harassment. The decree also requires Vail Run Resorts to translate its equal employment opportunity policies into Spanish and provide semi-annual reports to EEOC identifying complaints of retaliation or discrimination. The rehiring of Quezada is also expressly prohibited.

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