The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Friday filed a class action discrimination lawsuit against the Reno Hilton and its parent firm, alleging the company has failed to protect women from sexual harassment and physical abuse by co-workers.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Reno on behalf of Rosa Gonzalez de Moreno and other "similarly situated female employees," seeks an injunction prohibiting continued illegal conduct and up to $300,000 in monetary damages per victim.
The Reno Hilton, northern Nevada's largest hotel-casino, is owned by Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment Inc., formerly known as Park Place Entertainment Corp.
The company denied the EEOC allegations.
"There is no legal or factual basis for its lawsuit," Robert W. Stewart, Caesars Entertainment senior vice president for corporate communications, said in a written statement.
"The Reno Hilton thoroughly investigated the alleged incidents described in the complaint and found the allegations to be false or grossly exaggerated," Stewart said.
Anna Y. Park, EEOC regional attorney based in Los Angeles, said Gonzalez de Moreno, employed as a porter in the housekeeping department, since 2002 was subjected to verbal and physical abuse by four other Hispanic female workers who cut off her hair and beat her in a bathroom on two separate occasions when she complained to supervisors.
"It was almost ritualistic," Park said.
After complaining, Park said Gonzalez de Moreno was ostracized by supervisors and had her hours reduced.
"It's our position the company failed to take appropriate action," Park said during a news conference in Reno.
"The Reno Hilton took all appropriate action in response to the employee's complaints," he said, adding that the company "does not tolerate harassment of any kind and has in place a strong program to prevent harassment and retaliation against its employees."
Olophius E. Perry, director of the EEOC Los Angeles district, said after the agency's investigation was completed, the findings were forwarded to the hotel company.
"By law, we are required to extend an offer, invite them to resolve the case," Perry said. "They refused."
Gonzalez de Moreno still works at the Hilton, Park said, adding that the EEOC has identified at least one other alleged victim and believes there are others.
According to the suit, victims were subjected to "egregious and sometimes violent sex harassment resulting in physical injury, unwelcome physical touching, grabbing, forcibly undressing, choking, fondling and rubbing by defendants employees."
The suit also claims that the defendants, "through their supervisors who witnessed and did nothing and/or participated in such conduct, ratified the sex harassment."