UPPER EAST SIDE — A former Hotel Plaza Athenee employee says she was fired because of her age and religion — and she's taking the East 64th Street boutique hotel to court for discrimination.
Azza Amer, a New Jersey resident, was 55 when she was fired in March 2015 after training her 20-something non-Muslim replacement, according to her lawsuit filed in State Supreme Court on Feb. 17.
A Muslim woman originally from Egypt, Amer had worked in the hotel's reservations department since 2001 and had been promoted to assistant reservations manager in 2003. Over her 15 years on the job, the hotel never had any complaints against her, the suit states.
But in March, Hotel Plaza Athenee hired another assistant reservations manager in her late 20s, and not Muslim, and did not tell Amer that she was going to be replaced, the lawsuit charges.
Amer trained the new manager and remained in her position until Dec. 4 last year. Around the same time, new management took over the operation of the hotel and Amer was told the hotel was downsizing, despite having just hired the new assistant reservations manager, according to her attorney Eric Baum of Eisenberg & Baum LLP.
She had been making $56,000 a year and declined eight weeks of severance pay that the company offered her in exchange for dropping her claims against them, Baum said.
Amer's case wasn't unique — another Muslim employee in her mid-60s, who had a 28-year tenure in the hotel's accounting apartment, and an 19-year accounts payable employee in her late 50s, were also fired and replaced by younger non-Muslim employees within a few months of each other, Baum stated.
"There is a pattern," Baum said.
A spokeswoman for the Hotel Plaza Athenee Hotel declined to comment Tuesday.
Amer, who is still looking for a new job, is seeking compensatory damages for emotional distress, back pay, front pay, loss of benefits and punitive damages. Amer also demands that the hotel comes up with or implements a policy that requires its employees to be trained against civil rights abuses, including age and religious discrimination.
"She doesn’t want any other employees to go through the same thing," Baum said. "She wants to send a message to the hotel that if they do this again, they'll be held accountable for their actions. The desire to work and be productive is what provides an individual with a sense of self-worth and to be fired because you are the wrong age is despicable."