PRESS RELEASE: Aimbridge Hospitality Slammed With Sexual Harassment Complaints

Workers file state complaints, gather to protest company’s alleged failure to prevent harassment

Dozens of hotel workers gather in the lobby of the Sheraton Park Anaheim hotel in front of a purple fist painted in honor of International Women's Day

Anaheim, Calif.: Three women workers from the Aimbridge Hospitality-operated Sheraton Park Anaheim each submitted complaints to the California Civil Rights Department today, alleging that their employer failed to respond properly to their complaints of repeated sexual harassment. The complaints come on the heels of hotel workers calling for a boycott of Aimbridge Hospitality, dubbed “Shamebridge.”

Worker Jenny Hong alleged in her letter that for almost six months, she faced nearly daily sexual harassment from a coworker who made unwanted comments on her appearance, physically grabbed her, and caused her intense anxiety at work. Worker Margarita Virrueta de Garibay separately alleged that the same coworker subjected her to sexually suggestive comments and unsolicited “massages.” Hong and a third woman reported the coworker’s conduct to the hotel’s human resources department, but both women allege that the company has done little to protect them from ongoing harassment.

“I am choosing to break my silence now because no woman should experience abuse in the workplace.” says Virrueta de Garibay. “I want to ensure that future generations of women, everywhere, feel safe and comfortable where they work.

Sheraton Park Anaheim employee Margarita Virrueta de Garibay poses in front of a purple fist painted to honor International Women's Day

Two weeks ago, another woman worker at an Aimbridge-operated hotel complained that she was fired from the Hampton Inn Santa Monica after reporting near-daily harassment. Maritza Villeda also submitted a letter to the Civil Rights Department in which she reported that a coworker verbally threatened her repeatedly, including aggressively calling her a “fucking bitch.” Villeda alleged that after she complained to hotel management at least five times over several weeks, the hotel failed to respond appropriately to her complaints and instead retaliated against her by terminating her.

“It is shameful that these hotel workers brought their complaints to management and were reportedly met with indifference,” said Kurt Petersen, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11. “Aimbridge Hospitality continues to show how little it cares for its employees.”

At yet a third hotel, the San Pedro Doubletree, which was operated by Aimbridge until it was replaced earlier this year, workers have filed a pending class action lawsuit against an Aimbridge subsidiary alleging violations of the panic button and other worker safety provisions of the Los Angeles Hotel Worker Protection Ordinance. A primary purpose of this ordinance is to help protect workers from sexual assault in the workplace.

These charges of disregard for worker safety suggest an ongoing pattern of Aimbridge’s failure to protect its workers. The California Labor Commissioner and Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón are currently investigating allegations of the exploitation of unhoused migrant workers at other Aimbridge properties in Southern California. Two additional Aimbridge-operated hotels face pending federal unfair labor practice allegations that managers unlawfully interfered with the rights of employees to engage in union or other protected activity.

The submission of these complaints takes place days before the Natural Products Expo West descends on Anaheim. Hotel workers have told event organizers to anticipate picketing and disruptions as they continue to fight for safe working conditions. Aimbridge Hospitality, the third-largest hotel operator in the world, operates a dozen hotels in Orange County.