Industry Group Fails to Acknowledge Hotel Owners’ Responsibility
On September 6, 2018, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) announced its “5-Star Promise,” a long overdue response to widespread sexual harassment and assault in the hotel industry. AHLA’s Promise contained a set of voluntary, non-binding recommendations lacking specific scope or timeframe for adoption and assigned no role or responsibility for hotel REITs, despite the risks and liabilities that sexual harassment holds for them:
- In 2018, Host Hotels and Resorts, the world’s largest hotel REIT opposed a shareholder proposal to increase disclosures about the impact on investors of hotel operators’ environmental, human rights, and labor practices.
- Sunstone Hotel Investors, another hotel REIT, declined to share information about the costs of and risks to the REIT from sexual harassment claims by hotel employees despite a March 2017 settlement of a lawsuit by two female employees of the hotel alleging sexual harassment and threats of retaliation.
UNITE HERE provides an analysis of the ongoing risks of sexual harassment facing hotel REITs and their investors here.
Around 7,000 hotel workers are on strike at Marriotts in San Francisco, Boston, Detroit, Hawaii, Oakland, San Francisco, San Diego, and San Jose. The main issues are economics, Marriott’s “Make a Green Choice” program that puts housekeepers at greater risk of pain and injury, and issues surrounding new technology. Well known environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) preceded the strikes.