LIHUE — Female employees of the Kauai Marriott Resort want to add sexual harassment and retaliation charges to the class-action lawsuit filed against their employer last year when a coworker’s phone was allegedly found recording women in the hotel’s employee locker room.
Six women decided to sue the hotel after two of them said they discovered a cell phone belonging to a coworker hidden in a toilet stall in the women’s locker room actively recording video with a view of the toilet stall and an area of the locker room where female employees changed clothes.
Attorneys for the Marriott employees are requesting that sexual harassment and retaliation charges be added to their initial complaint filed in September. A hearing on the proposed amended complaint is scheduled in Kauai’s Fifth Circuit Court on Feb. 21.
One of the allegations added to the complaint describes an incident from October, about a month after the lawsuit was filed when one of the female accusers went to a restaurant outside of the hotel to pick up some take-out food. When she arrived, she said she overheard one of her coworkers make a loud, sexual comment to his friends in reference to her.
The amended complaint also accuses the hotel of fostering a workplace environment hostile toward women.
Alan Ganir, a housekeeping employee at the Marriott, was arrested on Sept. 1 and later fired, but according to evidence submitted by the plaintiffs, the women later realized they had been unknowingly recorded for well over a year in spite of complaints to hotel management by numerous female employees about the women’s locker room.
Ganir has been charged in criminal court with one count of first-degree violation of privacy — his trial is set for April 29 — but the civil claim includes more extensive charges and alleges Ganir’s employers were liable for the actions of its employee.
The lawsuit names Marriott International Inc. and its subsidiary company, Essex House Condominium Corporation, as defendants along with Ganir and multiple other unnamed hotel employees.
The amended complaint would add a seventh count — alleging sexual harassment and gender discrimination on behalf of all defendants — to the six counts listed in the original complaint filed last year, which include negligence, invasion of privacy and infliction of emotional distress.
In an email last Tuesday, Ganir’s lawyer, Matt Mannisto said, “The plaintiffs’ attorneys know as well as anyone that the accused in this country are innocent until proven guilty. Any comment or insinuation to the contrary is unfair to Mr. Ganir and risks undermining the proceedings currently pending in the Fifth Circuit.”
Kauai Marriott Resort general manager Paul Toner declined to comment Tuesday and said the policy of Marriott International Inc. is not to comment on any pending litigation.