Hilton accused of racial discrimination

Michelle Keahey May 23, 2012, 2:46am

NEW ORLEANS - After being placed on paid leave, a housekeeping director for Hilton has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit claiming she worked in a hostile environment.

Hilton Hotels is being accused of allowing racial discrimination at one of its Double Tree Hotels in New Orleans.

Dianne M. Norman filed suit against Hilton Worldwide Inc. d/b/a Doubletree by Hilton Hotel New Orleans on May 5 in federal court in New Orleans.

Norman, an African-American, was hired by the defendant as an executive housekeeper in February 1987 for the Double Tree Hotel on Canal Street in New Orleans. She was later promoted to director.

According to the lawsuit, Norman was verbally assaulted by the operations manager and physically assaulted by the front desk supervisor in June 2010. She reported the incident to the general manager but was told to "calm down."

The following day, Norman filed a complaint with the EEOC, alleging discrimination based on race and hostile work environment.

When she returned to work, she was placed on paid leave and escorted from the property.

Norman argues that she is a victim of racial discrimination as the defendant had a zero tolerance policy for actual or threatened violence against employees. She states that the policy was routinely enforced when any minority violated the policy and the violator was terminated.

"However, when work place violence was committed by a Caucasian male against an African-American female, the Caucasian male was given a second opportunity by being counseled and given a written warning for his behavior," the lawsuit states.

The plaintiff is asking the court to enjoin the defendants from these violations and for an award of compensatory damages for physical pain and suffering. Mental and emotional pain and suffering, punitive damages, lost wages, diminished work capacity, court costs, and attorney's fees.

Norman is represented by Edwin M. Shorty, Jr., Tony Dooley, Michael J. Hall, and Hope L. Harper of Shorty, Dooley & Hall in New Orleans. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:12-cv-01149

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