Photo: Hyatt's idea of Appreciation.
A California Hyatt Hotel fired the Reyes sisters two weeks after posting their photoshopped faces in a not-so-appreciative Appreciation Week Poster. Was this a wrongful termination or union bashing by the hotel?
50-year-old Lorena Reyes had been working at the Hyatt hotel in Santa Clara, CA for 17 years, with her younger sister Martha eventually coming to work for the hotel. After 7 years of working together, the hotel decided it was time to make the sisters the center of ‘Appreciation Week’. But the sisters weren’t presented with a card, or some cupcakes, or even pats on the back.
The Hotel’s bizarre way of showing their appreciation, was to crudely photoshop the sister’s faces onto the bodies of slender women wearing bikinis, and posted the photos on a collage with other photoshopped staff photos in an employee-only hallway.
‘When I saw the photos,’ Lorena told Jezebel ‘I was very shocked. I was very embarrassed and angry.’ Appalled, the sisters ripped the pictures from the wall, having never even worn a bikini ‘What they did was unjust, displaying our bodies in that manner,’ the former housekeeper said.
Peter Hillan, a spokesman for the Hyatt said management wasn’t aware that the collage themed “Riding the Waves to Success,” could be misconstrued as insulting, and they still don’t think it is offensive ‘Everybody was enthusiastic about what we were celebrating,’ he said.
“I came to work and saw men laughing at the pictures, and I was so embarrassed to see my face pasted on a bikini body,” says Martha Reyes. “For me this is no joke. I take my job very seriously, and all I ask is to be treated with respect. Instead, Hyatt fired me, and now I may lose my home.”
After the sisters took down the offensive images, a staff member told the sisters they had to put them back up in the appreciation week poster, as the images were “Hotel Property” but the sisters refused. Within two weeks, both of them were fired.
According to the Reyes sisters, hotel management told them they were let go because they allegedly extended their lunch break for 10 minutes longer than allotted.
They claim the hotel management never talked to them about this matter until this incident occurred.
Peter Hillan, said the sisters were ‘dismissed for clear violation of workplace policies and procedures unrelated to the claims around the images.’ “We look at this as really a camping by the union Unite Here, who is trying to unionize this hotel and has sort of hijacked this particular issue for their own good,” Hillan said.
The Reyes sisters filed a retaliation claim against the company on Friday. Community leaders held a protest at the hotel on Friday calling on Hyatt management to immediately reinstate the housekeepers with back-pay and to apologize publically. “Firing these long term employees with weak rationale is not good enough and they need to take serious complaints about sexually degrading photos,” said Adam Zapala, the Reyes sisters’ attorney.