At a Nov. 11 meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women, three women presented allegations against the Shore Hotel, including claims of assault and wrongful termination.

Following their presentation, the commission resolved to support the women in a number of ways, including asking Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks for further investigation by the police department into the women’s assault claims and their decision to write an op-ed piece to be sent to City Council, which would include the testimonies of the women who spoke that night.

Krista Fonseca, Christina Griffin and Carly Kirchen each presented their claims against the hotel to the commission, beginning with Fonseca, a former Shore Hotel employee, who claimed that during her sexual harassment training she was instructed to defecate on herself if she was being sexually harassed so as to make herself less desirable to her harasser. Fonseca believes her remarks about the inappropriate training ultimately led to her termination and she is hoping to get her job at the hotel back.

Griffin and Kirchen, members of the union Unite Here Local 11, spoke of their failed attempts to report an assault that took place while they were protesting on Oct. 23 outside the hotel.

According to documents provided by Unite Here Local 11 organizer and research analyst Melanie Luthern, Griffin, “was chanting on a bullhorn and handing out leaflets when a man approached her, pushed her, and tried to pull the leaflets out of her hands.”

“This assault was recorded by the union’s video camera. When Ms. Griffin told police officers about the assault and pointed out the man who committed it, the police officers signaled that they couldn’t hear her, which she understood to be a sarcastic response to the sound of one of the bullhorns. They did not attempt to clarify or take any action. Ms. Griffin and [Kirchen] were later arrested by police on the request of a customer for a citizen’s arrest,” the document reads.

The document states that only after another union member insisted that the police, “take an equivalent action on the issue of the violence did the police review the video and attempt to cite a hotel manager for the incident.”

Luthern showed this video at the meeting and Griffin claimed that the man who assaulted her in the video was a hotel employee.

All three women said these incidents have affected them emotionally and psychologically.

Though the three women who spoke at the meeting are associated with the union, commission chair, Nicole Phillis, said she believes the commission’s decision to support the women in their allegations against the hotel does not in any way show their support of the union.

“The commission has not taken a position on the unionization of the Shore Hotel,” Phillis said, “our focus was the treatment of women workers and women picketers outside the hotel.”

“By sending a letter to Chief Seabrooks and tying it in to our Start By Believing campaign, and writing that op-ed, I think we’re really saying that the narrative power of these women is really important and we need to credit the experiences they’ve had whether it’s as a worker or a picketer exercising their first amendment rights outside the hotel.”

Phillis said the commission approached this as an issue affecting women workers in the Shore Hotel, and that falls in line with their mission to support women’s rights in the community.

The commission does recognize that there are “two sides to every story,” according to Phillis, and that is why they asked Mayor Kevin McKeown to write to the Shore Hotel to request their presence at the meeting, but no representative from the hotel appeared that night.

In response to hearing about the allegations made at the meeting, the Shore Hotel released this statement to the Daily Press.

“First and foremost, the hotel recognizes our employees as the cornerstone of our success, making their safety and wellbeing our core priority,” said Shore Hotel COO, Steve Farzam. “We take these allegations very seriously, and after an internal investigation, we have found these accusations to be false, and are seeking judicial remedy through the court system. In the meantime, the hotel continues to honor its mission statement, which is to provide an extraordinary travel experience for our guests with personable five star customer service, while honoring our commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility, respecting our fellow team members with modesty and advocating respect.”

Phillis made it clear that the commission’s support of the women can only go so far.

“We’re not a judicatory body. We’re not there to be the jury. What we are there to do is to identify issues facing women and girls in Santa Monica and to advise council on matters of policy that are concerning this issue. Now I think that’s exactly what we did.”