Ex-hotel dishwasher awarded $21 million for being forced to work on Sundays, to be paid $500,000

The dishwasher that was fired from her job for missing work to attend church was awarded $21 million by a jury in Miami Monday.


Marie Jean Pierre had been a dishwasher for 10 years at the Conrad Miami when she was fired in 2016 for "unexcused absences" according to Sun Sentinel.

According to WTVJ, her boss fired her after she missed six Sundays to attend church.

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But when Pierre started at the hotel in 2006 -- it was then managed under Hilton Worldwide and in 2017 became Park Hotels and Resorts -- she told her employer that she could not work on Sundays because of her religious beliefs.

In 2015, her kitchen manager George Colon assigned her to work Sunday despite the 2006 request. Despite co-workers swapping with Pierre so she could attend church, Colon eventually insisted that she work on Sunday. He later fired Pierre, according to The Miami Herald.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued Pierre a "right to sue" notice according to The Herald, and she then filed a lawsuit.

The 60-year-old mother of six sued Hilton Worldwide claiming it had violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Title VII of the act outlaws discrimination that prohibits discrimination by covered employers on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

The federal jury in Miami ruled in Pierre’s favor Monday, granting her $36,000 for lost wages and $500,000 for emotional anguish.

Despite the jury granting her $21 million in punitive damages, The Sun-Sentinel reported Wednesday that punitive damages are capped in federal court and Pierre will likely receive around $500,000.

Hilton Worldwide responded following the verdict.

"We are very disappointed by the jury's verdict, and don't believe that it is supported by the facts of this case or the law. We intend to appeal, and demonstrate that the Conrad Miami was and remains a welcoming place for all guests and employees," a spokeswoman told The Sun-Sentinel. 

Park Hotels and Resorts, formerly known as Hilton Worldwide is based in Tysons, Virginia.

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