A Philadelphia woman who worked as a front desk agent for the Sheraton
Philadelphia Downtown Hotel has filed a federal civil action against the business contending she was fired in retaliation for speaking out about harassing conduct on the part of another worker.
Crystal Vazquez, who was first hired by the defendant in May 2010, maintains that her firing exactly two years later was retribution for the plaintiff complaining about sexual harassment by the hotel’s AT&T specialist, a man identified in the complaint as Ryan Sheridan.
Sheridan, who is not listed as a defendant in the litigation, allegedly told hotel employees that he and the plaintiff had been sexually intimate.
Vazquez was out on maternity leave in late December 2011, which is when Sheridan was allegedly making the comments about the supposed intimate nature of his relationship with the plaintiff, the lawsuit states.
Vazquez didn’t complaint to human resources about Sheridan until she returned from maternity leave, which was around March 22, 2012, the suit states.
It was around that time that Jeffrey Cafferty, the hotel’s assistant manager, told the plaintiff that Sheridan was telling others that he possessed nude photographs of Vazquez, something the woman denied was in Sheridan’s possession.
Cafferty assured Vazquez that he complained to human resources about Sheridan’s alleged conduct, and that a representative would contact the plaintiff as part of its investigation, according to the complaint.
A human resources representative never contacted Vazquez, however, and Sheridan allegedly continued his offensive conduct.
The plaintiff met with Cafferty and the hotel’s manager, Phillip Marcano, in the spring of 2012 to discuss the situation, the record shows.
Vazquez subsequently offered the human resources department a written statement about the harassing conduct.
Two days after she submitted her statement, the plaintiff was placed on a five-day suspension, the complaint states.
Vazquez was told she was being suspended for voiding a transaction at the front desk when her cash drawer was short, even though the plaintiff claims she was taught to do just that in such a situation when she first started working for the defendant.
After returning from her suspension on May 16, 2012, the plaintiff was immediately fired from her job.
“Needless to say, Plaintiff’s termination was a direct result of her complaints regarding sexual harassment,” the complaint reads.
The lawsuit accuses the hotel of violating the Civil Rights Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.
The complaint contains counts of retaliation, sexual harassment and hostile work environment.
Vazquez seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as damages for lost and future earnings, emotional distress, and punitive damages.
She also seeks cost and legal fees.
The suit was filed on Dec. 23 at the federal courthouse in Philadelphia by Cherry Hill, N.J. attorney Richard S. Swartz of the firm Swartz Swidler.
The federal case number is 2:13-cv-07506-GP.