Hyatt bikini pictures and hotel workers rights

|
(16)
Matha and Lorena Reyes
PHOTO COPYRIGHT DAVID BACON

“When I got to work that day, I heard a lot of laughter and jokes, including a manager that was around. When I got up close to look at what they were laughing at, what I saw were a bunch of pictures that were extremely humiliating and shameful. And I just felt so ashamed and humiliated as a woman that I got extremely upset and took down my picture and that of my sister.”

On Oct. 14, two weeks after Martha Reyes tore down the pictures, she and Lorena Reyes were fired from their positions as housekeepers at the Hyatt Santa Clara. Both have worked in hotels for more than two decades.

The pictures that started it all? Cartoon images of skinny white women wearing bikinis, with the faces of the hotel’s housekeepers tacked on.

“The pictures were pictures of women in bikinis with our faces pasted on. To be honest, for me as a woman it was—imagine, I’m a mom of five kids and nine grandkids. To be put in that kind of picture is extremely uncomfortable,” Martha told the Guardian.

When they were fired, the sisters were told that they were wasting company time by combining their ten-minute and lunch breaks. But the sisters believe that they were targeted after Martha tore down the pictures—and later, when confronted by a superior who demanded the images back, refused to return them.

As for the too-long lunch break claim: “We haven't come across anyone else who's been fired for it,” said Adam Zapala, an attorney with the firm Davis, Cowell, and Bowe, who is representing the sisters. “So it raises the suspicion in our mind.”

As we reported in November, the sisters have filed complaints against the hotel with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They are asking for their jobs back and for back pay, saying they were wrongly terminated.

The complaints are specific to the Reyes’s case. On March 8, UNITE HERE Local 2, which represents Hyatt workers in several Bay Area hotels, will push back at Hyatt on a different level.

The group is planning an International Women’s Day protest at the Grand Hyatt in Union Square.

“On March 8, 1911, garment workers, all women, took to the streets demanding a 10 hr work day and an end to child labor. It was after that year that people started to celebrate March 8 as International Working Women’s Day. This action comes out of that tradition,” explains Julia Wong, an organizer with UNITE HERE.

International Women's Day no longer specifically honors workers. But the bikini pictures bring up an issue that affects all women; sexual objectificaion.

“It’s making fun of what women’s bodies look like, sexualizing them, in an industry where its not safe to be sexualizing housekeepers,” said Wong, referring to widespread sexual harassment of hotel housekeepers. The extent of this issue was revealed to a degree last year in the aftermath of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn scandal.

“It’s really a fight for women’s rights in the workplace,” said Wong.

Comments

You can be fired for any reason or no reason in an At-Will State.

That's what "At Will" means.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2012 @ 2:39 pm

in this state - and every state for that matter. These women were sexually harassed - an employer is not allowed to create or foster an atmosphere of sexual harassment.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

Wrong.
At will does not create a condition whereby a worker waives his or her rights under federal, state, and local LABOR LAWS.

That is just a foolish interpretation of at will employment.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2012 @ 5:28 pm

People only vary in how much they seek to disrput that fundamental truth. These chicks could get another job if they wanted.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2012 @ 7:49 am

Incorrect. gender. race. sexual orientation. whistleblower. union/political affiliaion are still prtotects on the books and fought for in the streets. take the laws away? see you in the streets.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2012 @ 9:48 am

black, women, midgets, freckled, green-eyed or any other spurious reason. Good employees are always valued while bad employees will always find themselves out on those streets.

Being hispanic and female is hardly a handicap for hotel housekeepers - they almost always are female hispanics in fact. Some are good and some are bad. But their being hispanic chicks only matters when it suits them.

I wish I had a race and gender card to play every time I get fired. Too bad huh?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2012 @ 10:11 am

The EEOC oversees claims of sexual harassment. They're complaining they were terminated for refusing to return the pictures of nude women with their faces superimposed on them.

Are you even reading the article before making inane comments? You cannot fire an employee "at-will" because you don't like that they've complained about being sexually harassed. Just like you cannot fire an employee because you don't like their afro (which is discrimination based on race) or because you think they're too "butch" (which is discrimination based on sexual orientation).

I get that you like to take issue with every article here because you believe the sourced is biased. But it's pretty hard to not find fault with an employer who tolerates the posting of naked pictures, superimposed with the faces of his elderly, female employees. Do you have any respect for anyone - including yourself?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

It means you can fire someone for any reason or no reason. You can fire someone just because they have a pimple on their nose or have a big butt.

Joshing like this goes on at every place of work, and worse. But there always has to be someone who gets all pissy about it and, usually in my experience, it's the employee you most want to get rid of anyway.

The rest just laugh off stuff like this.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2012 @ 5:09 pm

Although now his target is a couple of elderly women who didn't enjoy "joshing" around when they were sexually harassed. I'm sure they were prolly a couple of sluts too.

Hey genius - pimples and big butts are not members of a little something called a "protected class." Women are. Being a member of that protected class precludes being fired for anything having to do with that class. Read up on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Age Discrimination Act of 1967 - to start.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2012 @ 5:17 pm

"...usually in my experience, it's the employee you most want to get rid of anyway."

You mean the one who doesn't tolerate her boss treating her however he or she pleases? The one who doesn't agree that because "joshing" (read: harassment) is widespread, therefore it is ok? Did you ever consider that maybe joshing at this level, and worse, is common, because employees are fearful that if they don't play along, even when they are offended or hurt, they will be seen as "that employee you want to get rid of"?

And yes, at-will employment means you can fire someone for any reason you like, unlike it violates federal or state statutes (I don't know the law well enough to know what exactly this incident is a case of), but are you really such a dick of an employer that you would fire someone because they didn't play along with your sexually harassing them?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2012 @ 4:00 am

routinely noticed that the workers who complained the most, and talked about their "rights" the most, were invariably the lowest performers.

Those who are good at their job derive satisfaction from that and generally neither make nor respond to trouble.

It's the bad workers that caused 90% of work for union guys like me, which is all part of why I quit in the end. I quite simply felt more sympathy for the employers having to tread lightly over rules and regs than I did for opportunistic parasites like these chicks.

Managers have to manage and I will bet you dollars to donuts that these chicks were bottom decile performers.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2012 @ 7:54 am

Wait, what? They only get ten minutes for lunch?

Posted by KyleM on Mar. 08, 2012 @ 7:58 am

It's only in France, AFAIK, that's illegal not to take lunch.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2012 @ 9:29 am

lunch = 30
break = 10
break = 10
total = 50

It is also against the law.

State law proscribes when and where you can take breaks in typical micromanagement detail.

Nothing makes unions more angry than when a company uses these laws to get over, that would be their duty.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2012 @ 8:24 am

I hope they're up for a threesome!

Posted by Chromefields on Mar. 09, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

Hi, thanks for sharing.

Posted by dog trainer on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 3:46 pm

Also from this author

  • Homeless for the holidays

    Changing demographics in the Bayview complicate city efforts to open a shelter there

  • Betting on Graton

    Newest casino targeting Bay Area residents promises to share the wealth with workers and people of color

  • Women complain about F.X. Crowley's union

    NLRB filings, lawsuit charge discrimination while supervisorial candidate was running Local 16