Marriott to pay $3 million to settle sex bias suit


CHICAGO -- To settle a sex discrimination suit aimed at breaking the "glass ceiling" barrier to women's advancement, Bethesda-based Marriott Corp. has agreed to pay $3 million to 141 former and current women managers and revamp its promotion policies.

Judge Milton I. Shadur of U.S. District Court in Chicago approved the settlement last week in a case filed in 1988 by Joyce Meiresonne and Toni Reedy, who were then restaurant managers at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Hotel.

The women charged that they had been denied promotion to the position of food and beverage manager, the highest position in the hotel chain's food-service department.

Only four of 160 food and beverage directors in the 201-hotel chain were women, the suit alleged, though the position supervised thecatering, restaurant and kitchen departments, in which numerous women managers were qualified for advancement.

"Men were fast-tracked into these jobs ahead of women who were doing a good job but just sitting there," said Sarah Siskind, an attorney for David Miner Barnhill & Galland, which represented the plaintiffs.

A class of about 3,000 women managers at Marriott was certified by the court in 1989. After the class was notified of the court action, 141 filed claims that they had been treated unfairly.

A Marriott spokesman called the suit "an unfortunate blemish on our overall record of employee fairness and opportunity."

Ms. Meiresonne, who no longer works for Marriott, and Ms. Reedy, employed by the Marriott Suites hotel in Deerfield, Ill., were promoted to food and beverage managers after the suit was filed.

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