Employees file human rights complaint against luxury hotel
Violetta Kryak, CTV News Vancouver
Published Wednesday, August 7, 2019 5:52PM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 7, 2019 6:54PM PDT
Some current and former employees of Rosewood Hotel Georgia in Vancouver are filing a human rights complaint, claiming they were sexually harassed by high-profile guests and managers.
Jesse Perry-Huson, a former server at Reflections, the hotel’s outdoor patio restaurant, said she was one of many who experienced harassment there. She said she experienced a variety of types of harassment, often being subjected to unwanted comments or touching more than once in a single work week.
“I was serving a table and it was a VIP regular and as I bent down to put the drinks on the table, he put his hands up my skirt and held me there while the rest of the table laughed at me,” she said. “When I did go to management about that I was brushed off. They told me… that I need to continue serving the table.”
According to the union representing hotel and food service workers in B.C., multiple women have spoken out about alleged sexual harassment from wealthy and high-profile guests at Rosewood Hotel Georgia. There are also allegations of sexual comments and advances from past managers.
“We don’t want to shout to be heard, but we went to management, we went to media and now we filed a human rights complaint,” Perry-Huson said.
The complaint is now being reviewed by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. Vancouver’s City Council has also agreed to hear from the hotel workers in order to create municipal regulations that could protect them in the future.
“We are hoping for things like panic buttons, a banned list of patrons who have committed sexual harassments, protection for women for women who do decide to speak out,” Perry-Huson said. “We want to feel like our safety is more important than the profit made off of wealthy hotel guests.”
CTV News Vancouver requested an interview with the hotel’s manager, but was given a written statement instead. It said the hotel has been “working alongside this union to advance safety measures for women working in Canada’s hospitality industry,” as well as making industry-leading changes that include “the addition of panic buttons and increased security.”
In June, almost 100 current staff members protested outside the hotel. Sierra Garrison was one of them. She described a work experience similar to that of Perry-Huson, saying she routinely felt uncomfortable even approaching certain tables with guests who had a reputation of sexually harassing sitting at them.
“Not getting much of a response from our employer, from that workplace is definitely really frustrating,” she said. “What we are trying to do here is … give voices to people who may not be ready to speak out. It’s a really scary thing to do.”