Three housekeepers in Manhattan have filed sexual harassment lawsuits against their former employer after a preliminary investigation found evidence to support the claim that the trio had been groped by their superiors. The housekeepers – Marina Abdullajeva, Monica Quintana and Kathy Salgado – for the Club Quarters Midtown hotel, located at 40 W. 45th Street, are each suing their former bosses for $2 million in damages.

Joseph Maya, the attorney representing the women, says local and national media attention to the suit have sparked calls to him from more than 50 women working in New York hotels, ranging from the housekeeper to executive levels.

Maya, an attorney specializing in sexual harassment cases, said that while the alleged offenses are particularly “egregious,” he often handles cases for women in the cleaning profession within both companies and hotels. He notes that the majority of discrimination cases involve labor practices, such as failing to promote women and discrimination against pregnant women.

“I think that probably the nature of the relationship is that the employee is subordinate to the manager and people are working in those positions because of a lack of skills and language abilities, and managers know it’s difficult for them to find jobs elsewhere,” Maya said. “The supervisors think they can do whatever they want and get away with it. The lesson hasn’t been learned that judges, courts and juries will not tolerate it.”

The Allegations

Following a five-month investigation, the New York State Division of Human Rights found probable cause to support the women’s claims that they were sexually harassed by Eliot Manning, a supervisor; Hassan Kaseb, the head of housekeeping; Talat Pervez, a mechanic; and Maria Lahlu, another housekeeper.

They are accused of grabbing the housekeepers’ breasts, propositioning them and demanding that they bow their heads when speaking to the executive housekeeper. The four employees denied the allegations.

Attorney Jon Horowitz, who represents Midtown South Associates, one of a number of companies that hold an interest in the corporate-oriented Club Quarters property, said his investigation has determined that “there is no basis for the claims,” and stressed that “the allegations of sexual harassment were not made and no complaint was filed until after the employees were discharged for cause.” The suit claims, however, that the women were fired in retaliation when they complained to top management.

Horowitz also asserted that Midtown South Associates has a written sexual harassment policy which it strictly enforces.

The investigation by the Division of Human Rights revealed that the 48-page employee handbook, that contains the sexual harassment policy, was distributed to management, but not to other employees.

If you have any questions regarding workplace harassment or any other aspect of employment law, please do not hesitate to contact Joseph Maya and the other experienced attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221-3100 or to schedule a free initial consultation.