Hotel manager accused of harassing and raping maid

A maid at a Miami based hotel has filed a state court lawsuit accusing a hotel manager of subjecting her to persistent workplace harassment including sexual harassment culminating in sexual assaults and rape.

The plaintiff is the married mother of two children. She asserts that she consistently resisted the male manager’s sexual advances, making it clear to him that she was not interested, but that he persisted, ultimately taking her by force and sexual molesting her on the hotel premises. He also engaged in sexual assaults on other maids employed on the hotel’s property.

At one point, according to court documents she filed, he demanded that she supply him with nude pictures of herself, threatening her with the loss of her job if she refused. He allegedly raped her by using a pretext of asking her to bring towels to a room, waiting inside, and pulling her into the room when she arrived.

After the initial assault, according to the complaint, the hotel manager sexually molested the maid on a number of occasions. In addition to threatening her with loss of her employment, he allegedly said that he would make trouble for her with immigration officials if she complained or failed to comply with his demands. She is an immigrant from Honduras, and was paid $7.67 an hour for her work at the hotel.

The abuse went on for two and a half years, according to the lawsuit.

Sexual harassment is a terrible offense, which can cause severe emotional damage to victims and their families. Workers have a right to do their job in peace and safety, and if the facts of this case are true, then this worker’s rights were violated in the worst possible way. She has not named her assailant as a defendant in the suit, instead targeting three companies involved in her employment. Based on the woman’s report, however, it seems likely that the hotel manager will one day face trial as well.

Source: Opposing Views, “Maid Claims Marriott Manager William Castro Raped Her,” Sept. 18, 2012

Florida retaliation suits are on the rise

According to statistics compiled by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, retaliation charges in Florida and across the country have more than doubled since 2000.

In 2011, retaliation was the leading charge filed with the EEOC against Florida employers, comprising 39.9% of all discrimination claims. In the same year, the number of discrimination lawsuits filed in Florida’s federal courts also increased 6% from the previous year. Nationwide, such charges accounted for 37.4% of all charges filed with the EEOC.

Sources attribute a variety of factors for the increase in retaliation claims. More employees have access to information regarding the employment law protections available to them. In a sluggish economy, difficulty finding another job after a layoff or termination may cause other workers to resort to retaliation suits.

Another reason may be the probability of success: retaliation charges result in favorable outcomes for employees more than other types of discrimination suits. For example, a sample of 30 retaliation claims resolved in Florida’s federal courts in 2011 shows that 13 received employer verdicts, whereas 17 were resolved either by verdicts for the employee or settlements. The verdicts awarded employees amounts between $5,000 and $200,000; the settlements also included amounts up to $200,000.

In addition, punitive damages are frequently awarded in retaliation lawsuits. Under Florida law, punitive damages are typically awarded when a jury finds that the defendant was guilty of intentional misconduct or gross misconduct, based on clear and convincing evidence. In retaliation cases (not involving unreasonable financial gain), the amount of punitive damages awarded is typically 3 times the amount of compensatory damages received, up to a cap of $500,000.

If you believe your employer has discriminated against you and violated federal or state laws in your workplace, an attorney can help you prepare a claim. An attorney can also protect your rights in the event your employer retaliates against you for reporting unlawful conduct.

Source: Miami Herald, “Impact of retaliation claims on small businesses,” Lori Adelson, July 7, 2012