Back during the SOPA controversy, when I was signing every email and petition I came across, I wound up on the mailing list of an outfit called SumOfUs.org. As it became apparent during the effort to undermine Rush Limbaugh, this is a left-wing organization.
Anyway, this is to explain how I found out about the latest outrage du jure:
It was “Housekeeping Appreciation Week” at the Hyatt and to celebrate, a digitally altered photo collage of Hyatt Housekeepers' faces -- including Martha’s and her sister Lorena’s -- superimposed on bikini-clad cartoon-bodies was posted on a bulletin board at work.
She felt humiliated and embarrassed. But she knew her sister Lorena -- also a housekeeper at Hyatt -- would be even more so. Martha tore the posters of her and her sister down. Then, with management present, a coworker told Martha she needed to return the photos.
She refused and said if they wanted it back, they'd have to take her to court.
Hyatt management fired Martha and Lorena just a few weeks later.
If it’s relevant, here is a picture of the Reyes sisters:
Okay, so now that that’s out of the way, a few thoughts:
Given that their likenesses were part of a collage, and apparently one put together by some of the employees themselves, there doesn’t seem to be much to indicate that they had been singled out for special harassment. But while I am not nearly as censorious of these kind of gags as I was in my youth, I know, or knew, people that are. And I can also see how, given their appearance, these two might construe the incongruity between that appearance and the “bikini-clad cartoon bodies” somewhat negatively. So if they had asked not to play, I think they’re oversensitive, but I also think the civil response would have been to not make them play.
Unfortunately, that isn’t what they did, and it is here my attitude hardens. Nothing about this situation justifies interfering with the work of other people, a lesson I learned myself during my own intolerant phase.
If this is representative of the way these two interacted with anybody at the hotel, staff, management, or guests, then this had likely more to do with their discharge than this single incident.
I would add that my guess is that Hyatt has a sufficiently sophisticated HR department to warn management away from overtly firing people over something that could be spun as sexual harassment.