In protests nationwide, hotel workers and students "blow the whistle" on HEI
July 28, 2011
In several cities nationwide, HEI workers and supporters are protesting the mistreatment of workers by HEI Hotels, the 7th largest hotel management company in the U.S. Protests are focusing on the company's pattern of punishing actions against "whistle-blowers"--workers who speak up about their working conditions.
Three recent incidents highlight what happens to HEI workers when they speak up about their working conditions. On April 20, 2011, the HEI-owned Hilton Long Beach fired five housekeepers after three of them raised concerns with management about unfair working conditions. The housekeepers had also been participating in an ongoing state investigation into the legality of their employment arrangements. They were paid under the table without a legal paycheck. On March 30, 2011, a jury ruled unanimously that a former Senior Vice President was retaliated against for filing a complaint with the government for age discrimination. He was awarded in $4.5 million in damages. On May 11, 2011, a doorman from the HEI Sheraton in Northern Virginia went to HEI's annual investors' meeting to present a worker's view of HEI's business approach. When he returned, he was interrogated and disciplined at work for his involvement in the meeting.
"It's not fair that we work hard, and then get thrown away like garbage," said Maria Medina, a former housekeeper at the Hilton Long Beach, who was fired just two days after she and two other women spoke out about unfair working conditions to the hotel's human resources director.