DALLAS — A former Omni Hotels employee gained a $25.1 million jury award for wage discrimination in Dallas federal court following an eight-year-long legal battle.
“It’s overwhelming. I feel I have a little bit of self-respect back. I feel that it’s healing and I can hold my head up a little high again,” Sarah Lindsley, 48, told WFAA following a federal district jury trial.
“I was just continually blocked along the way,” Lindsley said. “I was put down as a woman. I was disrespected as a woman, as being a single mother. I just put my head down, tried to work harder, tried to prove myself for years and years.”
Lindsley worked at Omni locations in Tucson, Arizona and Corpus Christi, Texas. Although she worked her way up from a server to one of just four female food & beverage directors among Omni’s fifty-plus properties, she claimed she was “paid less than men who had the same title and did the same work,” her suit said.
The lawsuit alleged that it was part of the “’boys club’ culture that permeated Omni’s Food & Beverage Division.”
“I had gone to HR countless times,” Lindsley recalled. “I had gone to my managers countless times, I tried to follow the chain of command the entire time I was there. Nothing was done, and I felt trapped as if I didn’t have a choice.”
The jury award is against Omni Hotels & Resorts and TRT Holdings, Inc.
In a statement, Omni Hotels and Resorts tells WFAA, “The proceedings remain ongoing and there is no judgment yet in this case. Accordingly, we are unable to comment on the specifics. However, we vigorously deny these claims and affirm that Omni Hotels & Resorts does not stand for discrimination in any way. We have every confidence that we will prevail as the judicial process plays out.”
“There were multiple times along the way where there were opportunities to resolve this case, opportunities for the parties to move on,” said Jay Ellwanger, Lindsley’s attorney at Ellwanger Henderson. “And time and time and time again, Omni just wasn’t interested and they didn’t want to talk, and they just wanted to try to prove a point through continuing to litigate with us.”
“And having a client that, like Ms. Lindsley, (who) was willing to persevere for eight years through all of those ups and downs,” Ellwanger said. “It’s really a unique situation and I think it speaks to how brave she is.”
Read more from WFAA here.