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Did staff anti-gay harassment at InterContinental Hotel The Willard Washington D.C. violate chef’s human rights?

InterContinental Hotel The Willard Washington D.C. allegedly investigated and could not substantiate claims of staff and supervisor anti-gay slurs made to assistant chef Alberto Vega who worked at the hotel for about 18 months before quitting in August 2013.

In a December 2014 filing, D.C. Office of Human Rights (OHR) found probable cause that the Willard hotel illegally forced Alberto Vega out of his job. The findings by the OHR supported Alberto Vega’s case that he was harassed on the job for his sexual orientation, a violation of OHR workplace discrimination policies for D.C.

In its 15-page finding of probable cause, OHR said its investigation into Vega’s complaint found that he was “harassed on a frequent, nearly daily basis by multiple members of the kitchen staff. The [anti-gay] jokes were offensive, and supervising chefs laughed about them, compounding the impact of the ridicule.”

WashingtonBlade.com – March 13, 2015

The OHR filing states Alberto Vega notified supervisors about the harassment and he made attempts to transfer to a different work department at least three times to get away from the harassment in his assistant chef workplace. The Willard claimed Vega was not qualified for one of the jobs and two other jobs were filled or unavailable. The OHR found this to be a false claim by the hotel.

The [OHR] document says the Willard allegedly “constructively discharged” Vega after he told his supervisors he could no longer work in such a hostile environment.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines a constructive discharge as an illegal form of forced resignation brought about by “making the work environment so intolerable a reasonable person would not be able to stay.”

WashingtonBlade.com – March 13, 2015

The InterContinental Willard challenged the December ruling for ‘probable cause’ and OHR Director Monica Palacio filed another 3-page response to the Willard on March 11, 2015.

OHR Director Monica Palacio stated in her ruling, “The OHR affirms its finding on all claims”.

Under OHR procedures, the Willard has 10 days from the time of the March 11 ruling to decide whether to enter into conciliation negotiations with Vega to reach a possible settlement in the case. Vega’s attorney, Brian Markovitz, has said Vega is open to entering discussions for a possible settlement.

If the Willard declines to enter conciliation discussions within the 10-day deadline, the case is automatically sent to the D.C. Commission on Human Rights, which is authorized to conduct a trial-like public hearing that includes testimony by witnesses. Under the Human Rights Act, the commission is empowered to make a final ruling on whether discrimination occurred and what, if any, penalty should be imposed on the party accused of discrimination.

WashingtonBlade.com – March 13, 2015

The Washington Blade article ends with the information that InterContinental Hotels Group received a perfect score of 100 from Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, a monitor of Fortune 500 companies’ personnel policies for LGBT employees.

Will Alberto Vega’s anti-gay harassment at InterContientnal Willard Washington, D.C. impact IHG’s Equality Index ranking?

Read the full story at

WashingtonBlade.com – D.C. upholds bias complaint against Willard Hotel


The Willard, InterContinental Hotel

My reward night stay at The Willard in February 2011 was a restless one as I had come down with the flu during my week hotel hopping in Washington D.C.

InterContinental Willard

Our room was too hot, the bed frame too shaky and my body too restless. I ended up taking a walk outside at midnight around the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial to cool off in the chilly air of February. The next day we checked into the W Hotel for a cooler hotel experience. We could open the window at the W Hotel to keep the room comfortably cool.

Loyalty Traveler – 8 nights in D.C. for under $500 (and a lot of points) (Feb 27, 2011)


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