Former Worker Files Race Discrimination and Workplace Safety Lawsuit Against Chateau Marmont 

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Former Worker Files Race Discrimination and Workplace Safety Lawsuit Against Chateau Marmont

The lawsuit, the second this year against the famed hotel, comes days after Aaron Sorkin pulled filming of “Being the Ricardos” from the property, honoring a growing boycott

Los Angeles, CA:  Following a weekend of protests drawing attention to the growing boycott at the Oscars-season hot spot Chateau Marmont, another Black worker has filed a lawsuit against the Chateau Marmont alleging race discrimination.

“This is the second race discrimination lawsuit filed against the Chateau Marmont by a Black woman in the span of four months.  This suggests that these were not isolated incidents, but instead part of a larger pattern or practice of discrimination at the Chateau,”stated Lauren Teukolsky, an attorney who represents Ms. Blackwell, as well as another worker who has filed suit against the hotel, Thomasina Gross. 

April Blackwell, a Black woman, alleges in her lawsuit that she experienced a racially hostile work environment and unsafe working conditions at the Chateau.  Her lawsuit alleges that, as the only overnight front desk agent working in the Chateau’s drug and alcohol-fueled “anything goes” environment, she was subjected to racist and sexist harassment by guests while performing her job.  Ms. Blackwell alleges that when she reported abusive and threatening guest conduct to managers, they took little corrective action. In December 2019, the hotel disciplined and terminated her after a particularly egregious episode of guest harassment.

“I know that people who are not Black have not had to go through the things we have had to go through as Black people and Black workers. That is why I am here today: because I want accountability. I want Chateau to understand that they did things they should not have done. I want Chateau to understand that it’s not acceptable to let their workers be harassed and threatened by guests,” said plaintiff April Blackwell, who worked at Chateau Marmont as an overnight front desk agent.

In January, former events server Thomasina Gross filed a lawsuit against the hotel alleging that she also experienced race discrimination and sexual harassment while working at the hotel.

The latest lawsuit comes several days after Oscar-nominated director Aaron Sorkin honored workers’ call for a boycott of the Chateau Marmont by pulling the production of Being the Ricardos from the hotel.

A growing number of celebrities have endorsed the boycott, including Jane Fonda, Alfonso Cuarón, Martin Sheen, Tom Morello, Edie Falco, Lena Headey, Constance Zimmer, Nikki Bilderback, Thomas Sadoski, Joshua Oppenhimer, Eliza Dushku, Amanda Seyfried, Christopher Abbott, Sarah Silverman, Daveed Diggs, and Alison Pill. Organizations such as SAG-AFTRA have also voiced their support for the workers.

“Black leaders and organizers have forced all of us to confront and fight to end our society’s systemic racism. The hotel industry profits from racist employment practices. Hotels employ few Black workers.  And when they do, Black workers often work in out of sight positions such as PBX operators or overnight auditors who do their work in a closet behind the front desk,” said Kurt Petersen, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11.

Chateau Marmont workers have asked the public to boycott the hotel until it demonstrates a commitment to respecting their years of service by rehiring them in accordance with their legal rights and to ensuring that all workers—regardless of their race, sex, or background—feel treated with dignity and respect.

“What April Blackwell has described having to endure working overnight at this hotel shocks the conscience.  It has no place in our community.  It has no place in 2021.  It is about time we put an end, once and for all, to this kind of outrageous treatment of workers.” said Reverend Kelvin Sauls, Clergy for Black Lives.

It has been over a year since the Chateau Marmont fired more than 200 of its workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving workers who had dedicated decades of their lives to the hotel without job security or company-provided healthcare. Since then, many of the hotel’s workers have spoken out about their experiences working at the hotel, prompting concern from community leaders and the call for a boycott.

April Blackwell is represented in her lawsuit by Lauren Teukolsky of Teukolsky Law, APC, Jeremy Blasi, and Zoe Tucker.