WMBT sues Holiday Inn Express for Sexual Harassment and Wrongful Termination

Holiday Inn Express Sued for Sexual Harassment and Wrongful Termination

SAN JOSE, Calf. (October 10, 2018)— Attorneys with Winer, McKenna, Burritt & Tillis LLP filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of a Gilroy, CA woman who accuses her former employer, Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Silicon Valley of failing to protect her after she suffered habitual workplace harassment and sexual assault by the general manager.

According to the lawsuit, recently filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court, Merasol Silva worked for several years as a front desk agent and was later promoted to manager on duty. The defendant, Sundarasan Arumugam was Silva’s direct supervisor and general manager of the hotel. Silva says the manager aggressively harassed and engaged in unwanted touching, hugging, tickling and grabbed her buttocks on many occasions. Over the course of several months, Silva claims the inappropriate behavior escalated into an incident of sexual assault inside the manager’s office.

The plaintiff complained to the owner and filed a police report in July of this year. In the wake of an investigation, the owner put the defendant on leave and he was eventually terminated. However, Holiday Inn management also disclosed confidential details about Merasol’s claims to her co-workers who started gossiping about the harassment allegations and retaliated against her for coming forward. Silva reported the retaliation and nothing was done.

“This case highlights the systemic issue of workplace sexual harassment in the hotel industry,” said plaintiff attorney John Winer. “Our client was forced to report this matter to police because her employer failed to protect her. Then instead of properly addressing the misconduct, management fired her for bringing the issue to light,” added Winer.

Hotel management fired Silva in August 2018 after she went on medical leave due to stress. Silva believes she was wrongfully terminated for speaking out about the horrible working conditions and lack of employee oversight.

The lawsuit, Merasol Silva vs. Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Case No. 18CV335809, accuses the defendants of hostile work environment, sexual harassment, failure to take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent and correct harassment, discrimination and retaliation.