Starwood Hotels Pays Baker $3 million for Spying

by Tiffany Millar on March 12, 2010

After over 3 weeks of trial, a jury awarded a hotel baker $3 million. Moises Mendez, a 46-year-old immigrant and Washington Heights resident, repeatedly filed complaints with Human Resources at the Times Square Westin Hotel about discrimination committed against him by hotel workers due to his Ecuadorian origin, Hispanic race and surgical scars. The claims alone weren’t what made the jury’s mind though.

Apparently, after making the allegations to Human Resources, Starwood Hotels, the Westin Hotel’s parent company, secretly installed a hidden camera near Mendez’s workstation in the Westin Hotel kitchen. The baker told the court that the company spied on him and wanted to find ways to get rid of him, adding that it just shows what he went through. The jury found that the company unlawfully retaliated against the baker, who they saw as a dedicated and hardworking employee.

Mendez was awarded $1 million for his pain, suffering and emotional distress, while Starwood is being made to pay another $2 million in punitive damages because of their unlawful actions. After the trial, the baker said that he put his faith in the American justice system, and he looks forward to going back to work, adding that it’s like a big building has been lifted off his shoulders. Ken Thompson, the baker’s lawyer, said that Starwood was outrageous for secretly installing the camera in retaliation for the filed discrimination allegations to Human Resources.

However, not everyone is ready to let the issue go. The lawyers representing Starwood Hotels say that they will seek to have the ruling overturned, as they claim the camera was suppose to be protection for Mendez and his union approved it.

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