For immediate release
November 18, 2011
Hyatt Housekeepers File Retaliation Charge with the EEOC
Hotel Management Posts Sexually Suggestive Photos of Employees and Fires Housekeeper Who Objects
Community Leaders Converge on Hyatt Regency Santa Clara in Support
Where: Front Entrance; Hyatt Regency Santa Clara, 5101 Great America Parkway
When: Friday, Nov. 18, 2011, 8:00a.m.
Santa Clara, Calif. Today, two former Hyatt housekeepers, Martha and Lorena Reyes are filing a retaliation charge against the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara with the federal agency, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The housekeepers, who are sisters, were among many Hyatt employees whose faces were pasted atop bikini-clad cartoon images on the company’s bulletin board. Humiliated, Martha Reyes tore down the photographs of herself and her sister. Both sisters were later fired by the hotel. Scores of community leaders are joining the Reyes sisters this morning for a protest in front of the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara, calling on Hyatt to reinstate the Reyes sisters.
"I came to work and saw men laughing at the pictures, and I was so embarrassed to see my face pasted on a bikini body," says Martha Reyes. "For me this is no joke. I take my job very seriously, and all I ask is to be treated with respect. Instead, Hyatt fired me, and now I may lose my home."
The collage of digitally-altered Hyatt Housekeepers in bikinis was posted in the hotel in late September, during Hyatt’s "Housekeeping Appreciation Week." After Martha removed the photos of herself and her sister in protest, a worker told Martha she had to return the photos because they were the property of the hotel. Martha refused to give the photos back. Both Lorena and Martha were subsequently fired. Lorena and Martha had more than 30 years of service combined, working at that hotel property.
"Jewish tradition teaches that every person is created in the image of God and that embarrassing another person is to be avoided as much as we would avoid shedding blood," says Rabbi Melanie Aron, of Congregation Shir Hadash, who is among a number of community leaders participating at this morning’s action at the hotel. "The recent use of a digitally-altered photo collage of Hyatt housekeepers in bikini swim suits at Hyatt Regency Santa Clara violates community standards of decency and respect. Apologies should be made to all those whose photos were so displayed and any disciplinary action against them for their reaction to this affront must be dropped."
This incident is just one of many injustices against the Hyatt’s housekeeping staff. In a study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine examining a total of 50 hotel properties from 5 different hotel companies, Hyatt housekeepers had the highest injury rate of all housekeepers studied. To date, OSHA or its state counterparts have issued 16 citations against the Hyatt at 11 hotels and 3 citations against one of the Hyatt’s housekeeping subcontractors at one of those hotels, alleging violations of safety regulations that protect housekeepers and other employees.
Martha and Lorena Reyes and the lawyers representing them are available for interview. Please contact Julia Wong, 203-915-9572/[email protected] or Annemarie Strassel at 312-617-0495/[email protected] UNITE HERE represents over 250,000 workers throughout the U.S. and Canada who work in the hospitality, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, laundry, and airport industries.
Visit www.hotelworkersrising.org for more information.