Starwood Hotels Faces Discrimination Lawsuit from Transgender Woman

Gina Versace filed a lawsuit against Starwood Hotels a year ago in federal court claiming she was improperly fired from her banquet server position as a result of gender discrimination. Versace claims Starwood Hotels subjected her to abuse and discrimination after she legally changed gender identity in 2005.

She took her case to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a Notice of Right to Sue on April 30, 2014.

Versace was hired as a banquet server in 1998 under a different name when she was still labeled a man. When she changed gender identity in 2005, she claimed she wanted to keep her transition private, but was not able to because of hurtful comments made by managers in front of hotel guests and other employees.

Among Versace’s claims in the lawsuit, she says the Starwood Hotels’ staff still referred to her as “he” and forbade her form using women’s restrooms. In addition, she claims her work hours were limited and she was unfairly punished for taking breaks.

Versace said, “Even the assistant director herself of HR directed me to a non-accessible individual bathroom across the hall, behind a locked door and through a storage room.”

The lawsuit claims her supervisor at Starwood Hotels, “showed animus against Ms. Versace’s gender and gender identity by shouting at her in an abusive manner, ‘You cannot work here.’”

Versace said, “Starwood should be exposed for horrific and illegal treatment. People need to be aware and no one should have to be treated the same way that I was.”

Versace was eventually fired due to “insubordination” in 2013, according to the lawsuit.

Starwood Hotels released a statement saying, “Starwood did not discriminate in any way against this former employee. In fact, the allegations of discrimination were investigated by the Florida Commission on Human Relations in 2013 and the agency found there was no reason to believe that any discrimination had occurred.”