October 6, 2005

Marriott sued for age discrimination

By Deena Beasley

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Three workers in their 60s on
Thursday filed suit against Marriott International Inc.
alleging that they were passed over for promotion at the hotel
operator's timeshare subsidiaries in favor of "young, hip,
good-looking" people.

"These are all long-time sales executives who were
repeatedly denied promotions due to their age," said Kelly
Armstrong, the attorney representing the plaintiffs.

She described the age discrimination suit filed in federal
court in San Francisco as "a call to arms for all older
employees at Marriott to join in a possible class action."

The three sales executives worked for Marriott Vacation
Club International and Ritz-Carlton Club. The suit also names
as a defendant Rick Owen, western regional vice president for
Marriott's timeshare operations, based in Newport Beach,

Marriott and Owen could not be immediately reached for

One plaintiff, Victoria Roger-Vasselin, still works in San
Francisco for the Ritz Carlton timeshare unit.

"I was intimidated, embarrassed and emotionally
distraught," by Owen's treatment and comments, she said.

Another plaintiff, Kenneth Arrick, has been out on
psychological disability leave since February.

He said Marriott's human resources department declined to
take action after he complained that Owen had passed him over
for promotion in favor of younger, less-qualified candidates.

Richard Kittner was fired by Marriott in 2002 after he
filed a federal complaint when a promised sales director job in
Aspen, Colorado was given to someone else.

"I was told my superiors would not talk to me, and don't
talk to them," he said.

Kelly estimated monetary, emotional distress and punitive
damages for the lawsuit at $75 million. "That's the kind of
damage awarded needed to send a message to a large corporation
like this," she said.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in March that workers 40 or
older can sue their employers for practices that favor younger
workers, even if there was no intentional bias.