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Federal agency sues managers of Jefferson City hotel over sexual harassment claims

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing the company that operates the DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton in Jefferson City after a hotel worker allegedly sexually harassed his co-workers.

According to court documents, "During 2014 and early 2015, a male room inspector employed by DoubleTree, Antoine King, engaged in unwelcome, offensive sexual comments and conduct toward female workers at the hotel."

The commission claims Vinca Enterprises, Inc. and Puri Group of Enterprises, Inc. (PGEI), which manages the hotel on Monroe Street, failed to stop King from regularly making offensive sexual comments and engaging in unwanted physical contact with a female housekeeper.

Official documents claim King "threw a co-worker on a bed while making offensive remarks, hit a fellow employee in the arm and made offensive sexual comments to female employees at the hotel on a daily basis."

ABC 17 News reached out to the commission for comment and received a news release. The news release included statements from multiple officials with the commission.

“Management has an obligation to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace," said L. Jack Vasquez, director of the EEOC’s St. Louis District. "Companies must realize that offensive and unwelcome sexual comments and conduct are a violation of law.”

Another statement said the commission's goal is to defend victims.

“Sexual harassment in the workplace is always disturbing,” said Andrea G. Baran, the EEOC’s Regional Attorney in St. Louis. “But this harassment occurred on a frequent basis and continued even after management and one of the owners knew what was happening. The EEOC is here to defend the rights of sexual harassment victims.”

ABC 17 News also contacted the attorney representing DoubleTree Hotel's management.

"The company maintains policies prohibiting any form of harassment or discrimination in the workplace, and we categorically deny that any unlawful harassment or discrimination occurred," said Katrina Morgan in an email to ABC 17 News. "We will have no further comment on the litigation at this time."

The lawsuit claims the workers who were sexually harassed complained to the general manager about King's treatment but nothing was done about it.

Court documents said hotel management was "aware of King's unwanted offensive sexual comments and behavior but failed to take appropriate remedial action to prevent or correct it."

According to the documents, the commission is asking for the court to order the hotel to carry out policies that give equal employment opportunities for female workers and to compensate the victim any past or future losses caused by its "unlawful practices."

Assault / Court and Trials / Crime / Jefferson City / Jefferson City Video / Missouri / Sexual / Top Stories / Top Stories / Video

Zach Boetto

Zach Boetto started working with ABC 17 News in June after graduating from California State University-Channel Islands with a degree in organizational communication. He reports weekday evenings and weekend mornings.

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