Former Hampton Inn Employee Sues Hilton Hotel Chain and affiliates for Pregnancy Discrimination
CONTACT: Christiaan Perez, 212-739-7581, [email protected]
LatinoJustice filed a federal court class action complaint against Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Sage BRE, BRE NE Hospitality, and UNUM Group for denying Betsabe Cunya and other pregnant employees pregnancy-related short-term disability benefit. Sage BRE, which operates the Hampton Inn Long Island-Brookhaven—a Hilton brand—where Cunya worked, flouted multiple requests from Ms. Cunya to provide her with the benefit. Ms. Cunya worked for Hampton Inn for more than two years when she became pregnant. By State law, pregnant employees are entitled to short-term disability benefit. Ms. Cunya requested the benefit before she went on pregnancy leave, made another request soon after she gave birth, and sent UNUM, Sage BRE’s insurance carrier, a letter when her child was 3-months old. Sage BRE and UNUM gave her the run-around, and then dismissed her requests.
Ms. Cunya stated: “I want what I and every other working pregnant mothers want, to know that their employer will comply with the law, providing them with short-term disability benefit and equal treatment in the workplace while they are pregnant.”
Ms. Cunya’s employers also denied her promotions because she was pregnant and gave the position to non-pregnant applicants. Her employer told her that because she was pregnant she would be unable to handle the stress and they did not want to give her the promotion because she would eventually be going on maternity leave. Despite, Ms. Cunya being passed over for the promotion she continued to support her employer by fulfilling supervisory responsibilities without pay.
Ms. Cunya’s employers also allowed a culture of hostility toward pregnant employees to fester. Ms. Cunya’s male supervisor harassed her relentlessly when she was pregnant. When Ms. Cunya was 7 months pregnant, the supervisor ordered her to clean 30 rooms in a shift. He assigned her more work when she was pregnant than she ever had to do before her pregnancy. When he felt she wasn’t keeping up with the work he assigned, he ridiculed her and told her she was using her pregnancy as an excuse. He made fun of her stomach. He told her that a pregnant woman was not welcome in his department. When Ms. Cunya complained about her supervisor’s, mistreatment, and excessive workload, her manager said she was overreacting, and her hormones were raging.
One of Ms. Cunya’s lawyers, Nathalia Varela of LatinoJustice, stated: “Employers should be held accountable for mistreating their pregnant employees. Even though these women are paid extremely low wages they work tirelessly as housekeepers to support their employers. It is illegal and wrong for Sage, Hilton, BRE NE Hospitality and UNUM to engage in a shell game in an effort to unlawfully deny their pregnant employees short-term disability benefit which allows them to receive a fraction of their lost income while on pregnancy leave.”