Press Release: Women call on City of Vancouver to address pervasive sexual harassment in the hospitality industry, Incidents at Canada’s top-rated Rosewood Hotel Georgia prompt action

VANCOUVER – Several women who work at the Hotel Georgia, Canada’s top-rated hotel, have recently come forward with sexual assault and harassment complaints. The treatment of female staff by Pacific Reach Properties, the owner of the Hotel Georgia, exemplifies the culture of the hospitality industry in Vancouver.  The owner’s newest hotel, the Hotel Belmont, portrays highly sexualized images that objectify women. UNITE HERE Local 40, which represents women at Hotel Georgia and other local hotels is urging the City of Vancouver to take action to ensure safe working conditions for women.  

UNITE HERE Local 40 held a press conference July 23 at 11:00AM outside of Hotel Georgia, followed by a protest at 5:00PM at Vancouver City Hall, in response to persistent sexual harassment and assault reports from women working across Vancouver hotels and restaurants, including the Hotel Georgia.  In the #MeToo era, there remain too many examples of women in the hospitality sector who encounter incidents of harassment.   

The customer grabbed and restrained me so I could not get away. He said multiple lewd comments, and tried to kiss me multiple times as I yelled at him to stop. As I struggled to get away from him kissing me, he bit me on the neck. I finally got away, and he then turned toward me and gave me the middle finger. I was in a state of shock” says Casey Vanderveen, a server from Reflections Restaurant at the Hotel Georgia. 

Women account for the majority of workers in the hotel and food service industry – the backbone of Vancouver’s $4.8 billion tourism industry. This coincides with reports that sexual assault against women in Vancouver have increased 16% since 2016. The highest rate of sexual assault is in the downtown business district where both the Hotel Georgia and the Hotel Belmont are located.  

Councillor Christine Boyle and Councillor Jean Swanson will introduce a motion for city staff to investigate how the City of Vancouver can take a proactive role and ensure hospitality owners provide safer workplaces for their female staff.  

“Everyone deserves to feel safe and respected in their place of work. We have been hearing stories that that isn’t the case for many women working in the hospitality and service sectors. There is no excuse for this and the way these businesses handle staff safety must be addressed” said Councillor Boyle.

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Contact: Sharan Pawa, 604-725-0053, [email protected]