The wife of the owner of the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills is being sued by a former employee who alleges she was harassed because of her Asian heritage and fired in 2016 when she complained about her work conditions.
Jennie Lam’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit names as defendants Beverly Cohen; the Robert & Beverly Cohen Family Trust; For All Seasons Gardenscapes Inc.; and Veronica Rodriguez, a woman who worked with Lam.
A Four Seasons hotel representative could not be immediately reached for comment on the suit, which seeks unspecified damages on allegations of race discrimination and harassment, whistleblower retaliation, age discrimination, wrongful termination and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Lam began working as a floral designer and plant care specialist in February 2015 with For All Seasons Landscapes, located in the hotel at 300 S. Doheny Drive, according to the lawsuit. From the time she started working there, Lam was “constantly singled out” by Cohen because of her ethnicity, according to court papers filed on her behalf last Friday.
The suit alleges that Cohen told Lam: “Chinese, Vietnamese, whatever you are, just work or you will not have a job.”
Cohen also often asked “Where is the little Chinese girl?” when inquiring about Lam’s whereabouts, according to the plaintiff, who also alleges she was forced to work in 100-plus degree temperatures in a heated greenhouse without any rest or meal breaks.
When Lam complained about her working conditions, Cohen allegedly told her the heat was good for her skin and for someone her age. Cohen also allegedly said, “Asian people are meant to work hard,” according to the lawsuit, which further alleges that Cohen demanded that the plaintiff dig into trash cans for old flowers to use in floral arrangements and ordered the plaintiff to clean the defendant’s penthouse balcony.
Rodriguez also disparaged Lam, making such remarks as “I don’t like you, whatever the hell your background is, Vietnamese or Chinese,” the suit alleges.
In April 2016, Lam experienced a panic attack and began to shake after she was ordered by Cohen to use a saw to cut branches into smaller pieces for a floral arrangement, the suit states. After protesting that she was not trained to do such work, a co-worker performed the task and severely cut one of his fingers, according to the complaint.
“As (Lam) was leaving, Cohen told (her) that she was fired,” the suit says.
–City News Service
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