L.A. County DA George Gascon Speaks Out on Chateau Marmont Racial Discrimination, Sexual Misconduct Claims

Chateau Marmont building
Courtesy of Michael Racanelli

“Workers can often feel powerless,” says the newly installed progressive prosecutor. Meanwhile, the hotel has been dropped by its top entertainment PR firm.

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon, who took office in December, has weighed in on the alleged pervasive culture of racial discrimination and sexual misconduct against workers at legendary West Hollywood industry hangout the Chateau Marmont.

The claims first surfaced in a September 2020 investigation in The Hollywood Reporter. Last month, a Black actress employed as a server filed a civil lawsuit contending she’d been repeatedly passed over for higher-paying roles in favor of white hires she then had to train and also physically violated by guests for years during special events — and the superiors she told about the harassment shrugged it away.

“I am aware of the civil lawsuit and allegations made regarding the Chateau Marmont hotel,” Gascon said in a statement provided to THR. “Workers can often feel powerless when dealing with hostile workplaces, dangerous work conditions and wage theft. I am committed to workers in Los Angeles County.”

Gascon, who didn’t reveal plans for prosecution at this time, ran on a progressive platform which may place the Chateau in his crosshairs. During a campaign debate he announced that “one of the things I would do [if elected] is create a civil rights division within the D.A.’s office.”

THR’s investigation detailed a workplace of entrenched toxic behavior, obliged by management, where the Chateau’s permissive tagline — “Always a safe haven” — didn’t protect staff. Hotel owner Andre Balazs himself stands accused of a pattern of racist hiring preferences and groping his own employees. The Chateau has denied all claims, and declined to respond to Gascon's comment.

In recent weeks multiple local officials have said that, in light of the revelations, they would avoid the landmark lodging, and organizations ranging from SAG-AFTRA to the National Organization for Women have decried the situation. (Pastor Stephen “Cue” Jn-Marie, of the L.A.-based Clergy for Black Lives, compared the hotel’s apparent treatment of its employees to “plantation capitalism.”)

A recently circulated pledge to boycott the Chateau, organized by hospitality union Unite Here 11, which has sought to organize the hotel’s workers, has garnered the support of the likes of Jane Fonda. Fonda’s public relations company, Sunshine Sachs, had also represented the hotel. When contacted for this story a representative for the firm noted it had dropped the Chateau since the civil lawsuit was filed in late January.

The hotel subsequently hired a crisis communications agency, Edendale Strategies.