Two Female Executives Sue Eaton and The Langham Hotels Alleging Gender Discrimination and Retaliation for Refusing to Engage in Unlawful Drug Use

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Helmer Friedman LLP Files Suit on Behalf of Two Female Executives Against Eaton and The Langham Hotels Alleging Gender Discrimination and Retaliation for Refusing to Engage in Unlawful Drug Use; Allege that Men Were Allowed to “Fail Up”.

Two female former executives have filed a lawsuit alleging sex/gender discrimination and retaliation against the entities that own and operate The Langham and Eaton hotel chains, including Hong-Kong based Great Eagle Holdings Limited and Langham Hotels International Limited. (Los Angeles County Superior Court Case No. 21STCV08897). The filing was announced today by the Los Angeles law firm of Helmer Friedman LLP.

Plaintiffs Zoë Wolff and Alexandra Johnes allege that, after being recruited to join the company as vice presidents, they were abandoned to a “doghouse of misogyny, drug use, and hostility toward women.” The complaint alleges that men were promoted and allowed to “fail up” while Ms. Wolff and Ms. Johnes were stripped of their vice president titles and authority.

The complaint further alleges that, at a June 2019 employee retreat in Joshua Tree, California, a high-level executive distributed LSD to the employees in attendance. According to the complaint, the executive encouraged employees to “trip” on LSD (as well as alcohol and psilocybin mushrooms) and then led them on a walk through the desert in the middle of the night, putting them at risk of overdose, death, injury, snake bite, and hypothermia. One employee got lost in the desert, according to the civil complaint. Ms. Wolff and Ms. Johnes refused to participate and allege that they were shunned and ostracized.

Following the retreat, the complaint alleges that Ms. Wolff and Ms. Johnes (who had, for months, complained of the discriminatory work environment), attempted to register additional concerns about the dangerous conditions that had placed employees’ lives at risk at Joshua Tree.

Rather than address their concerns, however, Ms. Wolff and Ms. Johnes allege that the company reacted punitively and fired them. Commenting on California law, Gregory Helmer of Helmer Friedman LLP said, “It is illegal to discriminate against employees based on gender, and it’s certainly illegal to fire employees for raising those concerns to their employer.” Helmer added, “Likewise, employers simply cannot fire employees who refuse to engage in unlawful activities."

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Gregory D. Helmer
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Andrew H. Friedman
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