Lawsuit: Center City Sheraton Fired Woman Who Reported Sexual Harassment By Guest

She says she was told "she brought this incident on herself." She's suing in federal court.

The Four Points by Sheraton at 12th and Race Streets. (Photo by Jared Shelly)

The Four Points by Sheraton at 12th and Race Streets. (Photo by Jared Shelly)

A former employee at the Four Points by Sheraton at 12th and Race Streets has sued the hotel and parent company Starwood Hotels & Resorts claiming she was fired in retaliation for making a workers’ comp claim and reporting sexual harassment by a guest.

Alexandra Austin, then a housekeeper at the hotel, claims that she suffered back and knee injuries after a slip-and-fall in July of 2014. After filing a workers’ comp claim she “began to experience hostility” from management, court documents say. When she came back to work, she claims that she was scheduled for fewer and less-desirable shifts.

In November 2014, a “guest exposed himself to [Austin] in a sexual manner,” then followed her into another guest’s hotel room wearing only a towel, the lawsuit claims.

“The guest no less than twice approached Plaintiff wearing only a towel, told Plaintiff that he had a ‘tip’ for her, and held up a wad of money, and then dropped his towel,” court documents say. They also say that “when the guest saw that Plaintiff was uncomfortable in his presence, he stated ‘What? It’s not like I’m naked,’ before proceeding to walk into the center of the hallway, drop the towel, and say directly to Plaintiff ‘this is me naked.’ ”

In the lawsuit, Austin claims that when she told her supervisor, “management literally laughed at her concerns and completely failed to prevent the guest from continuing to expose himself to Plaintiff.”

She claims to have called police but was ordered “to remain in the basement until the police left the premises.”

Austin claims that her employment was terminated that same day and that she was told “she was being terminated for ‘violating policy’ by cleaning a room with the door open” and that “she brought this incident on herself.” Austin claims that she always propped the door open while cleaning rooms and was never disciplined for it.

The case was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Four Points by Sheraton, Lam’s Realty Corp. and Starwood Hotels & Resorts were named as defendants.

Ari Karpf, the attorney representing Austin, did not respond to a request for comment. Media relations at Starwood Hotels & Resorts also did not respond.

Austin is seeking back pay for wages and benefits lost since her employment was terminated; damages for pain, suffering and humiliation; and punitive damages. She also wants the hotel to “promulgate and adhere to a policy prohibiting sexual harassment/retaliation in the future against any employees.”

Like what you’re reading? Stay in touch with BizPhilly — here’s how: