Two black former staffers who were fired from the famous Chateau Marmont allege that management at the hotel frequented by Hollywood celebrities allowed rampant racial and sexual discrimination, including groping and unwanted touching.
Thomasina Gross, an events server, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Wednesday alleging that she was the victim of racial discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation.
Another black former employee, Adrian Jules, filed a separate lawsuit in federal court last month alleging that management turned a blind eye when he complained about receiving sexually explicit texts from an inebriated white female colleague.
Gross claims that male guests would brush their hands against her breasts as they grabbed food off her tray and press their genitals into her back or buttocks as she was serving other patrons, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
‘Because the offenders would assault Ms. Gross while she was in the midst of serving other guests, she felt unable to show any reaction,’ the complaint reads.
Thomasina Gross (left), an events server, and Adrian Jules (right), also a former staffer, separately sued the Chateau Marmont hotel alleging racial discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation
The lawsuits were filed months after several ex-staffers alleged that the hotel was a toxic work environment rife with sexual harassment and racial discrimination
The hotel owner, Andre Balasz, 63, has been accused of not doing enough to crack down on harassment of staffers by famous clientele at Chateau Marmont. Balazs is pictured above in London in May 2019
‘Her client-facing job required her to maintain her composure, even though the assaults made Ms. Gross feel sexually violated and disgusted.
‘The fleeting, semi-public nature of the violations made any individual offense hard to prove – the offenders avidly maintained plausible deniability.’
Gross claims she urged her bosses at the hotel to make it clear to guests that it did not condone touching staff or addressing employees in a derogatory manner, but that management declined.
In her complaint, Gross also alleges that her bosses repeatedly passed her over for promotion despite strong performance reviews in favor of several white employees who she then had to train for their roles.
Gross claims she was passed over for promotion in favor of white employees despite getting strong performance reviews
Jules says that he was sent lewd and explicit text messages from an inebriated white female colleague. When he complained, he said he was ‘ghosted’ by management
Several former employees claimed that the hotel preferred to promote white workers to more prominent roles ‘on the floor’ where they were more visible and thus more likely to mingle with the crowd.
The Chateau Marmont denied this, saying that most of its regularly scheduled employees were minorities, including servers and department heads.
Gross accused the hotel’s general manager, Amanda Grandinetti, who is white, of making racially insensitive comments to her and other minorities.
Grandinetti is alleged to have once told Gross to change her leather jacket because it looked like she was ‘going to a disco.’
According to THR, Grandinetti acknowledged she disappointed or offended people’ and said that ‘in hindsight, I certainly see opportunities where I could have advocated more quickly for my team.’
‘I don’t like having to leave my dignity at the door,’ Gross tells THR. ‘It’s exhausting. We’re forced into a fight-or-flight mode. We’re conditioned to believe we have to expect this.
Balazs is known to rub elbows with the Hollywood elite. He is seen right alongside Kanye West and Jay-Z in New York City in August 2011
‘I’m speaking out on behalf of myself and others who believe they’ll face retaliation.
‘Changing the culture is my focus. No one should have to deal with this on a day-to-day basis.’
She added: ‘The Chateau tagline is “Always a safe haven.”
‘But it only applies to the clientele. It’s never been afforded to us, the employees, and that’s not OK.
‘The Chateau has the opportunity to right its failures, just like our country does.’
In September, hotel owner, Andre Balasz, 63, told THR that he ‘never condoned, and the Chateau Marmont’s “Code of Conduct” in conjunction with the “Employee Handbook” specifically prohibits, any unwanted sexual contact with, or any verbal or physical abuse of, anyone at any time.’
He added: ‘If, for any reason, our exceedingly clear “Code of Conduct” – which everyone must read and sign as a pre-condition of their employment – has been violated, it is my first, singular and moral obligation to correct it – and I will!’
Gross’ lawsuit was filed more than a month after Jules filed a separate lawsuit in federal court accusing Balazs for being negligent when he complained of receiving lewd text messages from a drunk white female colleague.
Jules, who is also an aspiring actor, said he first began work at Chateau Marmont in 2017.
The Chateau Marmont is a hotel known to be frequented by A-list celebrities. Elton John is seen left with Elizabeth Taylor during a surprise birthday party thrown for the singer at Chateau Marmont in March 2000
He claims that he received a series of unsolicited text messages from a white female colleague that included a picture of a used condom.
‘I’d just appreciate some more compassion,’ the text read in part.
When he complained to management and the human resources department, he said he was subject to ‘constant ghosting.’
‘You have to think, as a man, and a Black man specifically, if you get a message like that, you’re immediately terrified,’ Jules told THR.
‘What would have happened had I sent text messages like that to her?’
He added: ‘You do what the employee handbook tells you to do, and nobody listens.’
DailyMail.com reached out to Chateau Marmont. A rep for the hotel said that the company will not comment on pending litigation.
Balazs has himself been accused of unwanted touching and other sexually inappropriate behavior by Chateau staffers and guests, though he has denied the allegations.
He was accused of groping Amanda Anka, Jason Bateman’s wife, after the premiere of Horrible Bosses in 2017.
She said he convinced her to climb up a fireman’s ladder at Chiltern Firehouse, and that he groped her as she climbed.
Bateman was there and is said to have confronted Balazs about the incident. Balazs never commented on the accusations.
Last spring, Balazs, who also owns the Mercer Hotel in Manhattan and Chiltern Firehouse in London, laid off 248 staffers from the Chateau due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Balazs is seen right alongside singer Kylie Minogue in London in October 2014
That summer, he announced he would turn the hotel into a private timeshare, which his employees said was due to his attempt to sabotage their efforts to form a labor union.
Former employees accused him of turning a blind eye to a toxic work environment that included racial discrimination and sexual harassment.
Balazs declined to allow the ex-employees out of their nondisclosure agreements to freely discuss the matter.
Over the years Chateau Marmont, located just off the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, has been the scene of many Hollywood scandals.
It has a long history of celebrities who chose to pursue drinking, drugs, sexual proclivities out of sight.
Britney Spears had a breakdown in the dinning room in 2007 and comedian John Belushi overdosed and died at the establishment in 1982.
Lindsay Lohan got kicked out of the hotel in July 2012 after racking up a $46,000 tab in two months.
According to the hotel’s website, the rack rate for a standard one bedroom suite is $885 a night with the penthouse costing $2,500.