A hotel dishwasher has been awarded $21.
5 million after jury learned that her employer violated her religious rights by forcing her to work on Sundays before firing her.
However, a cap on punitive damages prevents the Miami worker from receiving anywhere close to that amount!
Marie Jean Pierre, a mother of six, sued Virginia-based Park Hotels & Resorts, previously known as Hilton Worldwide, for violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The landmark law bans employment discrimination on the basis of national origin, sex, religion, color or race.
The award was filed with the U.S. District Court in Miami on Tuesday. The Jury found she was due $35,000 in back wages and $500,000 for mental anguish and emotional pain.
60-year-old Pierre is also a member of the Soldiers of Christ Church, a missionary group that helps people in need.
She said in the lawsuit that she informed Conrad Miami that she couldn’t work on Sundays because of her religious beliefs.
In an interview, Pierre told NBC Miami: “I love God. No work on Sunday, because Sunday I honor God.”
Pierre’s lawyer, Marc Brumer, said Hilton argued that it was unaware she was a missionary and never knew why she always wanted to skip Sundays.
She also said that she was fired for alleged negligence, misconduct, and ‘unexcused absences,’ according to the lawsuit.
Even though there is a cap on punitive damage awards in federal court, her attorney said he expects her to receive at least $500,000.
“I asked for $50 million, knowing that I was capped at $300,000,” Brumer said. “I didn’t do this for money. I did this to right the wrongs.”
The jury was not aware that the law caps the amount of punitive damages she could get.
Hilton said it was “very disappointed by the jury’s verdict, and don’t believe that it is supported by the facts of this case or the law.”
A spokeswoman said: “During Ms. Pierre’s ten years with the hotel, multiple concessions were made to accommodate her personal and religious commitments.
“We intend to appeal, and demonstrate that the Conrad Miami was and remains a welcoming place for all guests and employees.”
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