Marriott sued for age discrimination

Reuters

Marriott sued for age discrimination

By Deena Beasley

Thursday, October 6, 2005

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Three workers in their 60s on Thursday filed suit against Marriott International Inc. alleging that they were passed over for promotion at the hotel operator's timeshare subsidiaries in favor of "young, hip, good-looking" people.

"These are all long-time sales executives who were repeatedly denied promotions due to their age," said Kelly Armstrong, the attorney representing the plaintiffs.

She described the age discrimination suit filed in federal court in San Francisco as "a call to arms for all older employees at Marriott to join in a possible class action."

The three sales executives worked for Marriott Vacation Club International and Ritz-Carlton Club. The suit also names as a defendant Rick Owen, western regional vice president for Marriott's timeshare operations, based in Newport Beach, California.

Marriott and Owen could not be immediately reached for comment.

One plaintiff, Victoria Roger-Vasselin, still works in San Francisco for the Ritz Carlton timeshare unit.

"I was intimidated, embarrassed, and emotionally distraught," by Owen's treatment and comments, she said.

Another plaintiff, Kenneth Arrick, has been out on psychological disability leave since February.

He said Marriott's human resources department declined to take action after he complained that Owen had passed him over for promotion in favor of younger, less-qualified candidates.

Richard Kittner was fired by Marriott in 2002 after he filed a federal complaint when a promised sales director job in Aspen, Colorado was given to someone else.

"I was told my superiors would not talk to me, and don't talk to them," he said.

Kelly estimated monetary, emotional distress and punitive damages for the lawsuit at $75 million. "That's the kind of damage awarded needed to send a message to a large corporation like this," she said.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in March that workers 40 or older can sue their employers for practices that favor younger workers, even if there was no intentional bias.