By Jim Smith
BOSTON — A plan by Hilton Hotels Corporation to staff a restaurant in its new Logan Airport hotel with native Irish has caused a furor among long-time hotel employees who say they are being pushed out in favor of a young crop of waitresses from Ireland.
The new hotel, the Hilton Boston Logan Airport, is tentatively set to open in September. It will replace the nearby Ramada Hotel, where many current employees have worked for decades.
"Management has made it clear that they want only people with Irish accents to work in the new pub and restaurant at the hotel," said Janice Loux, president of Local 26 of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees union. "That’s discrimination, and it’s a clear violation of the collective bargaining agreement."
Among the aggrieved employees are three grandmothers from the surrounding areas of Winthrop, Revere and East Boston. Josephine Murray, who is 71, Gloria DiMartino, 65, and 61-year-old Dorothy Webb have been advised to look elsewhere for jobs when the doors open to Kitty O’Shea’s Pub and Restaurant at the new hotel this fall.
"These are women who love their jobs and who have worked there for many, many years," Loux told the Echo Monday. "They’re being let go because they’re getting older and their Boston accents won’t fit in the new room."
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Last week the union filed age and gender discrimination suits on behalf of the three women with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
It’s going to be a long, hot summer over there at the hotel if there’s not some resolution to this soon," Loux said. Picketing and other forms of protest are being planned.
The women have received a tremendous outpouring of support from the community," she said, "and a lot of the Irish pub owners are with us all the way. They agree that what’s going on here is unfair and outrageous."
A spokesman for the Hilton Corporation, Stephen Colwell, told the Echo that a "fair and lawful process" will be exercised in the hiring of Kitty O’Shea’s staff. "We’re hopeful that there will be a positive resolution to this matter in the coming weeks."