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Hampton Inn loses discrimination suit

January 19, 2007|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - A pregnant woman who sued the corporation that represents a local hotel was awarded $45,000 in an employment-discrimination settlement, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

A settlement signed Tuesday by United States District Court Judge William D. Quarles Jr. requires that employees at Hampton Inn in Hagerstown attend sessions about employment discrimination.

A complaint states the hotel, which is part of Falling Spring Corp., discriminated against Kimberly C. Sudhoff when it withdrew an offer of employment as a part-time receptionist after realizing she was about four months pregnant.

"The effect of the practices ... has been to deprive Kimberly C. Sudhoff of equal employment opportunities and otherwise adversely affect her status as an employee because of sex," says the complaint dated Sept. 28, 2006.

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Maria Salacuse, senior trial attorney at the commission's Baltimore field office, said Sudhoff, who lived in Hagers- town at the time the case was filed, now lives in Florida.

The consent agreement that was filed Wednesday orders Hampton Inn to pay Sudhoff's compensatory damages within 10 business days.

Messages seeking comment at the corporate communications centers of The Hilton Family, which is affiliated with Hampton Inn, were not returned Wednesday or Thursday.

"We were real pleased that they were willing to resolve it early on," Salacuse said.

Managers of the hotel must attend at least two hours of training, while employees must attend one-hour sessions. The training, which must be conducted by an outside firm, will cover federal anti-discrimination laws, with a special focus on sex and pregnancy discrimination, the consent decree states.

Discrimination against people because of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions is illegal, the equal opportunity commission says. Its Web site shows that the commission received 4,449 charges of pregnancy-based discrimination in fiscal year 2005, and it recovered more than $11 million in monetary benefits.

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