Four Seasons florist sues employer for discrimination and wrongful termination

Some employers believe they can get away with certain unfair, or even illegal, behavior when employees are unaware of their rights. Employees may also fear losing their jobs or other negative consequences if they speak up about such treatment in the workplace.

In a recent case, a former employee of the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills filed a lawsuit against her employer in Los Angeles Superior Court. She alleged the hotel owner’s wife, Beverly Cohen, subjected her to racial and age discrimination, harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination.

Jennie Lam started working at the hotel as a floral designer and plant care specialist in February 2015. She alleged Cohen harassed her because she was Asian and repeatedly singled her out due to her ethnicity. The complaint detailed multiple examples of employer behavior that is in violation of California and federal laws.

Cohen allegedly referred to Lam as “the little Chinese girl” and made comments like, “Chinese, Vietnamese, whatever you are, just work or you will not have a job.” Veronica Rodriguez, a woman who worked with Lam, was also named a defendant. She allegedly belittled Lam with remarks based on her ethnicity.

Besides enduring racial comments, Lam also experienced difficult working conditions. She was forced to work in a greenhouse heated to over 100 degrees without any meal or rest breaks. In addition, Lam was asked to perform tasks for which she was untrained. She was fired in April 2016 in retaliation for complaining.

It is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees based on their age, sex, gender, race, color, national origin, religion or disability. However, many employees do not know their rights and do not realize they are protected under the law.