- The Washington Times - Friday, October 2, 2009

The government has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the owners of a Best Western hotel in Northern Virginia, charging that they would employ only Hispanic maids.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court on behalf of three women who lost their jobs at the Mount Vernon Best Western in April 2007. All three women are non-Hispanic.

The suit says that a new owner - Mount Vernon Holdings, LLC - bought the hotel in 2007. Employees were required to reapply for their jobs, and the lawsuit claims that only Hispanics were hired for housekeeping positions.

A manager for the new owners expressed her preference for hiring Hispanics as housekeepers, according to the lawsuit.

While the lawsuit names three women specifically, it states that numerous women who had been housekeepers at the hotel for as many as 15 years lost their jobs to Hispanics who were either less qualified or no more qualified than those they replaced.

The lawsuit seeks back pay and unspecified monetary damages for the women who lost their jobs as well as punitive damages against Mount Vernon Holdings.

A manager at the hotel hung up the phone when asked about the lawsuit.

The EEOC typically files fewer than 300 discrimination lawsuits every year, and only a few dozen each year deal with discrimination based on national origin.

James Ryan, an EEOC spokesman, said he did not know how often the commission files lawsuits charging discrimination that benefits Hispanics. He said that generally, as workplaces become more diverse, the types of discrimination have also become more diverse.

“All discrimination based on national origin is wrong, regardless of who perpetrates it and regardless of who allegedly benefits,” Mr. Ryan said.

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