Is There Room at the Inn? Civil Rights Leaders Hold Candlelight Vigil for Jobs & Racial Justice for Workers at Chateau Marmont

Southern Christian Leadership Conference echoes the call to boycott “Hollywood’s Playground”  

Los Angeles: During this holiday season and in this time of waiting, workers, civil rights leaders, and community allies hosted a candlelight vigil to continue the call for jobs and racial justice at the Chateau Marmont.

The vigil follows an event in August, where the Southern Christian Leadership Conference hosted a discussion about racial equity in the hospitality industry.  Today, SCLC delivered a letter in support of the workers in their struggle for justice.

 “We have heard alarming allegations concerning practices at your establishment. As a Black-led organization that follows in the tradition of Dr. King, we stand with all of our Black brothers and sisters as they seek justice.” said Pastor William D. Smart, Jr. President and CEO, Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California.

Amidst carolers and holding candles, vigilers shed light on the experiences of Black and brown workers at the Chateau Marmont, including the stories of Thommi Gross and April Blackwell, two black women who filed lawsuits earlier this year alleging that they experienced discrimination and harassment while working at the famous hotel.  Both women’s lawsuits have been moved into private arbitration, a secret court system that disproportionately affects women of color.

“As I allege in my lawsuit, the Chateau Marmont let guests call me names, even threaten me with violence, and they didn’t take any accountability when we complained or try to fix the problem. As a Black woman working overnight at the front desk, I felt that guests treated me much worse than they would treat a white person.” said April Blackwell, former night auditor at the Chateau Marmont. “I am here speaking out today because I want accountability for how I was treated. The Chateau needs to know that all of their workers deserve to be safe at work, regardless of their race and gender.” 

Supporters also honored the stories of veteran latino workers Jesus Moreno and Martha Moran, who each filed state recall complaints alleging the Chateau Marmont failed to bring them back in order of seniority, as SB-93 requires.  In late November, former gardener Jesus Moreno also submitted a letter to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing alleging that shortly after the pandemic layoffs, the Chateau rehired a less-experienced gardener who was white, significantly younger, and born in the U.S.–and that Moreno was discriminated against in rehiring at least in part because of his race, national origin, and age. 

SCLC also announced it is boycotting the famed hotel, joining celebrities like Issa Rae, Gabrielle Union, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, until workers are brought back in accordance with their legal rights and treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve.

Chateau Marmont workers were joined by Southern Christian Leadership Conference, CLUE, Creating Justice LA, Black & Brown Clergy Committee, UNITE HERE Local 11 and others.

“Hollywood’s playground should not be at workers’ expense.” said Pastor Cue of the Church Without Walls and Faith Rooted organizer with CLUE.”

“We demand justice for Chateau Marmont workers, and we will not eat, sleep, gather, film, or use any of these premises until the workers are treated with dignity and respect.” said Pastor Gary Williams, Co-Chair of Board of Directors of CLUE

Click here to view the SCLC Letter to Chateau Marmont.