Worker forced to work Sundays awarded $31 million for 'mental anguish'

The Conrad in Miami
The Conrad in Miami Photo credit: Facebook

A Miami woman has been awarded US$21.5 million (NZ$31.8 million) after the hotel she worked at fired her for being unable to work Sundays.

Marie Jean Pierre worked as a dishwasher at the Conrad Hotel in the Miami neighbourhood of Brickell between 2006 and 2016. 

NBC Miami reports that Ms Pierre is a devout Christian missionary, and had informed her boss when she was hired that she would be unable to work on Sunday.

In 2015, Ms Pierre's boss, George Colon assigned her to work Sundays, despite knowing of her involvement in a church that met on that day, reports the Miami Herald.

For several weeks, co-workers traded shifts with Ms Pierre. However, Mr Colon demanded that she turn up to work. 

Upon her refusal, she was fired.

After being let go, Ms Pierre filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which issued her with a "right to sue" notice. 

She proceeded to sue the hotel in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida in May 2017. 

Her lawsuit argued that her former employer, managed by hotel giant Hilton, had violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act. NBC Miami reports that the Civil Rights Act protects employees from discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex or national origin.

A federal jury in Miami, on Monday, ordered the Conrad Hotel to pay Ms Pierre $36,000USD for lost wages, $500,000USD for emotional anguish, and $21 million in punitive damages, according to the Miami Herald..

Altogether, Ms Pierre has been awarded the equivalent of NZ $31.8 million.



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