Former Employee Files Suit Against Beverly Hills Hotel Alleging Racism

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The family that owns the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, 300 S. Doheny Drive, is looking at a bit of legal trouble after a former employee filed suit against the wife of the hotel owner. Jennie Lam’s lawsuit claims that she was harassed about her Asian heritage and was then fired in 2016 after she complained about the situation. Lam was employed as a floral designer and plant care specialist at the hotel beginning in February 2015. Her technical employer was For All Seasons Landscapes, which is located inside the hotel.

Defendants included in the lawsuit are: Beverly Cohen, the Robert & Beverly Cohen Family Trust, For All Seasons Gardenscapes Inc., and Veronica Rodriguez. (Veronica Rodriguez is a former co-worker of Lam).

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages on allegations of race discrimination and harassment, age discrimination (the wife allegedly referred to her as “the little Chinese girl”), whistleblower retaliation, wrongful termination, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Lam claims she was repeatedly singled out by Cohen due to her race. Allegedly, Cohen once advised Lam, “Chinese, Vietnamese, whatever you are, just work or you will not have a job.”

Lam also claims she was made to work in temperatures over 100 degrees inside a heated greenhouse without the appropriate (or any) rest or meal breaks. When she complained about the working conditions, she was allegedly told that the heat was good for someone her age and good for her skin and that “Asian people are meant to work hard.” Lam’s lawsuit also indicates that she was made to dig through trash cans for old flowers to use in arrangements and also forced to clean the defendant’s penthouse balcony.

Rodriquez is included in the lawsuit because she allegedly made similarly racially charged, negative remarks to Lam such as, “I don’t like you, whatever the hell your background is, Vietnamese or Chinese…”

Lam eventually saw negative effects on her health. In April 2016, she had a panic attack and started to shake when Cohen ordered her to use a saw to cut branches into shorter lengths and use them in a floral arrangement. Lam protested that she wasn’t trained for that type of work, and a co-worker performed the duty. According to Lam, he severely cut one of his fingers during the process. As Lam left Cohen terminated her employment.

If you have been wrongfully terminated or if you are experiencing a hostile work environment, please contact one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.