VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The operators of Vancouver’s Rosewood Hotel Georgia have been accused of creating an “overly-sexualized” environment, putting the safety of workers at risk.
Certain female employees have filed a human rights complaint, claiming the top-rated hotel has allowed “certain female staff to be treated in derogatory and discriminatory manner.”
Jesse Perry-Huson is among the complainants. A former server at the Hotel Georgia’s rooftop restaurant, Reflections, she says no action was taken after she reported a VIP customer sexually harassed her.
“There was one particular incident where I was serving guests, and a regular VIP reached his hand up my skirt and held on to my inner thigh,” she said. “He wouldn’t let me go. So I was visibly upset while the rest of the people laughed at me. I went to management and asked to go home, which I wasn’t allowed to do.
She adds she asked that the table be transferred to another server, but claims the situation was downplayed by the manager.
“Brushed it off, told me that was just that particular patron acting like he normally does and I was made to continue to serve the table, which was obviously humiliating,” Perry-Huson recalls. “He spent lots of money and they didn’t want to embarrass him. With this certain guest, his behaviour was always like that. It wasn’t the first time that he had been disrespectful and rude. It doesn’t matter how wealthy, how famous — they can’t treat people like that.”
She says she felt belittled in such situations, and felt as though “catering to the wealthy clientele is more important than your safety.”
“We need the back-up,” Perry-Huson says. “We need the help from management to make a safe workplace.”
It’s because of ongoing incidents and the hotel’s lack of response to make staff feel safe that the union representing several hotel workers — Unite Here Local 40 — has decided to launch a human rights complaint.
In a statement, the Rosewood Hotel Georgia says “Over the past few months, we have worked alongside this union to advance safety measures for women working in Canada’s hospitality industry.
“Providing a safe and respectful work environment is an essential part of how we do business,” the statement to NEWS 1130 reads. “We agreed to industry-leading changes that include the addition of panic buttons and increased security, standardized uniforms, as well as hotel ban of guests who have committed sexual harassment.”