Browning-Ferris based claims against hotel franchisor Marriott International Incorporated (“Marriott”) will move forward, according to an Illinois federal court. The suit seeks to hold Marriott liable as a joint employer for the actions of its franchisee’s employee–a hotel assistant manager who allegedly coerced housekeepers into sexual “servitude.” Invoking the NLRB’s recent decision in Browning-Ferris Industries, 362 NLRB No 186 (August 27, 2015), the complaint argued that Marriott’s exercise of “direct, indirect or potential control over essential working conditions” at the hotel made it a joint employer with the franchisee. For greater detail on the case, see our recent blog here.
The Plaintiff named Marriott in eight counts. Marriott was directly charged as a joint employer with its franchisee for wrongful termination and negligent hiring and supervision. The other six counts (discrimination, retaliation, battery, assault, and negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress) were based on the doctrine of respondeat superior, which makes employers liable for certain acts of employees done within the scope of employment.
Of the eight counts, five will move forward. The court dismissed the negligence-based claims against Marriott (i.e., negligent hiring and supervision and negligent infliction of emotional distress), citing the Illinois Workers Compensation Act and concluding that Illinois employers are not liable for common law negligence claims. The Plaintiff herself dismissed the wrongful termination claim.
But the claims for discrimination, retaliation, battery, assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress will move forward based on Marriott’s alleged status as a joint employer with its franchisee.