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The Horrors of Working in the Hotel Industry: A Case Study

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#NotAtYourService -The Horrors of Working in the Hotel Industry: A Case Study


This case study will provide an overview of recent incidents of sexual harassment in the hotel industry. As a reader, you will find the difficulties employees face on their day to day responsibilities in balancing the quality service provided to their guests and to protect themselves from being vulnerable to sexual harassment as well as other atrocities.


The world is not oblivious of the sexual harassment incidents to employees in the leisure and hospitality industry. In the awakening of “#MeToo” and “TimesUp” movements, as well as the availability of social media, men and women are coming out with their real life stories of sexual harassment in the workplace. These stories are raising questions of corporate integrity, culture, policies, employees’ and guests’ behaviors, and overall the morality of the leisure and hospitality industry.

According to EEOC, “Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations, as well as to the federal government.”

An article named “Sexual harassment rampant in hospitality industry, survey finds” published by The Guardian, among the people who were surveyed, “89% said they had experienced one or more incidents of sexual harassment in their working life.” Of those, “56.3% said they had been targeted by a member of the public and 22.7% said they had been harassed by a manager.”

In 2017, the world was shocked to hear about many incidents that took place in renowned hotels such as Peninsula Beverly Hills and Plaza Hotel. These incidents point out a socio-cultural problem for men and women in the hospitality industry. There is a fine line between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors towards employees. While these hotels are known to provide excellent customer services to their guests, they couldn’t protect their own employees. So, what is the root cause and why did these incidents happen? All these hotels have extensive corporate policies and manuals against sexual harassments. However, were they so focused on their bottom line that they could not ensure and provide a safe working environment? Where do you draw the line between providing services and discretion to the guests and protecting your workers?

Hotel workers are experiencing harassment and sexual assault at an alarming rate, and there are rare evidences of these women being included in the social awareness and movements. Women are nervous in reporting the harassment incident promptly due to depression and their legal status in the US. According to a report published in 2016, in Chicago on an average more than 50 % of women reported that they were the victims of an unwanted behavior from guests, groping, or even sexual coercion. Exhibit X provides several unwanted incidents female workers faced by the guests in Chicago.

In this case study, we will explore some recent incidents where the hotel employees experienced sexual harassments, the responses provided by the accused hotels, and actions taken to prevent and protect these workers.

Issue 1: Endorsing Rape Culture at the Plaza Hotel

According to an article published by New York Post, several researches and statistics show that 9 out of 10 experience sexual harassment at their workplace. This is especially rampant in hotels, restaurants, clubs, and mostly in public service locations. This happens not only within the staff members and but also within up the management chain.  Furthermore, the guests who visit the hotels also sexually harass the hotel staff. Sadly, most of the employees who undergo sexual harassment are unaware if their company has any anti- harassment policy. Additionally, they do not receive enough support from their upper management. This causes grief and distress to the employees as well as lowers their confidence, which might eventually affect them in the long run.

One prime example of this is the sexual harassment claims by the female staff in the Plaza Hotels.  recent article published in the NY post stated that female employees had accused the hotel of endorsing rape culture. Six of their employees accused the coworkers and superiors of repeated sexual harassment which included groping, kissing forcibly, and passing on derogatory, lewd and sexually offensive comments. This would sometimes last for multiple times in a single day. The employees also felt that they were treated as mere sex objects.

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