A Miami hotel dishwasher was awarded $21.5 million in punitive damages on the grounds of religious retaliation after claiming in a lawsuit that her former employer fired her because she said she couldn’t work Sundays.
Marie Jean Pierre, a devout member of the Catholic missionary group Soldiers of Christ, had washed dishes and tidied rooms at the Conrad Hotel in Brickell for 10 years before she was fired in the spring of 2016.
She said the hotel had known about her religious conflict and that she couldn’t be scheduled for any shifts Sunday because her faith forbade her from working that day of the week, the lawsuit claimed.
Despite respecting her scheduling conflict for many years, her boss began assigning her to work on Sundays anyway beginning in 2015, according to the suit.
For several weeks, Pierre worked it out by trading shifts with co-workers but eventually was fired “for alleged misconduct, negligence and ‘unexcused absences,’” the lawsuit detailed.
Pierre sued the hotel chain in May 2017, claiming she was retaliated against due to her religious beliefs.
Earlier this week, the jury agreed with her claims and ordered the hotel to pay Pierre for lost wages, emotional anguish and punitive damages, which will likely only amount to around $300,000 due to a cap in punitive punishments in federal court.
Hilton owns and operates the Conrad Hotels and Resorts, and a Hilton spokesperson told InsideEdition.com in a statement that the company intends to appeal the verdict.
The statement read, “We were very disappointed by the jury’s verdict, and don’t believe that it is supported by the facts of this case or the law. During Ms. Pierre’s ten years with the hotel, multiple concessions were made to accommodate her personal and religious commitments.”