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Hyatt Guest Sues Over Cross-Dressing Employee

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on October 12, 2010 7:09 AM

It is difficult to even know where to start with this story. A woman is suing the Hyatt Hotel corporation for invasion of privacy, negligence in hiring, training and supervision and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The cause of the suit? Dayanara Fernandez returned to her room in a Hyatt in Deerfield, Illinois, to find an employee attired in his Hyatt uniform - from the waist up. From the waist down, he was dressed in her skirt and a pair of her heels.

AoL reports that Ms. Fernandez has filed her suit in county court in Los Angeles. The incident happened while Fernandez was in Illinois to attend a wedding. After surprising the Hyatt employee, Oscar Garcia-Franco, in her room, he kindly ran into the bathroom to change. But because he did not shut the door completely, Fernandez unfortunately discovered he was also wearing a pair of her underwear.

The cross-dressing employee, Garcia-Franco, was charged with disorderly conduct. He later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 90 days of court supervision and ordered to pay court costs of $187, reports AoL. The true pain from this legal action, however, will be felt by his employer, and maybe rightly so. According to another report on the case by CNN, Fernandez's complaint claims that she reported the incident to hotel management and asked for another room. Then, the hotel management did not take any other action until she insisted the Hyatt call the police.

The claims being made by the plaintiff of negligent hiring and invasion of privacy seem to be the strongest based on the facts as currently reported by these news sources. However, there is a requirement of some kind of foreseeability linked to most tort actions such as those in this case. Claims of negligent hiring usually focus on the background check (or lack thereof) of the employee who committed an illegal act. But how should a hotel chain change its training procedures to reasonably foresee and prohibit cross-dressing employees using the guests' clothing?

The corporation is sorry for the incident. "We deeply regret that this troubling, unacceptable incident occurred. Hyatt has taken action to ensure this individual cannot return to that property or any other Hyatt. Because this now is the subject of litigation, we cannot comment further," a Hyatt spokeswoman said in a written statement.

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