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Two Former Employees File Suit In Rockland County Supreme Court Claiming Discrimination Based On Age, National Origin
The Legal Beat
Two former employees of the Hotel Nyack have filed a wrongful termination and discrimination suit against the hotel, its owners, its employment management company, and its vice-president in Rockland County Supreme Court last Thursday.
Anjali Sharma, the former Director of Revenue, and Shyam Mehrotra, the former Director of Finance/Controller for the hotel, allege they were discriminated against based on their age and national origin. Both are of Indian descent. They also claim they were subject to a hostile work environment and claim they were terminated in 2021 in retaliation for their complaints of wage disparity. Both plaintiffs allege that all employees who took a 20 percent pay cut during COVID had their original salaries restored except them.
The two claim they were discriminated against based on their race — the complaint cites that they were the only two Indians on the management team at the hotel. They also allege age discrimination, saying both are over 60 years old.
The complaint names the Time Nyack Hotel, Juniper Nyack Employment, LLC, Juniper Time Owner, LLC and Chris Kaplan, the hotel’s vice-president of operations as defendants.
Sharma started as a reservation agent for the then-named Time Hotel in Nyack in 2012 and was promoted to Director of Revenue in 2017. Mehrotra was employed by the then-named Time Hotel as Director of Finance in 2017. Both were retained in their positions when Juniper Time of Scottsdale Arizona bought the bankrupt hotel for $18.5 million in 2019.
The former Time Hotel Nyack, which had a long and troubled history, rebranded under Hyatt’s Joie de Vivre signature line in 2021.
Mehrotra started with the Dream Hotel Group in 1998, the former management agent of Time Hotel Nyack. Juniper Capital Partners appointed international hospitality management company, Real Hospitality Group, Inc. (RHG) to oversee the operations of Hotel Nyack. RHG replaced the Dream Group, which owns Time Hotel brand.
Sharma and Mehrotra are suing for compensatory damages, lost wages and benefits, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees. The two former employees are represented by Keith Travers of Fort Lee, New Jersey. Both plaintiffs are from Hudson County, NJ.
The plaintiffs allege that in April 2020, hotel management reduced their salaries, along with all workers, by 20 percent due to COVID and the loss of hotel guest revenue. During COVID, Sharma continued to work on-site at the hotel.
The plaintiffs say the hotel received PPP, or Payroll Protection Loans, an SBA-backed loan program that helped keep businesses afloat by keeping the workforce employed during the COVID pandemic crisis. Most PPP loans were forgiven by the federal government.
According to FederalPay.org, Juniper Nyack Employment LLC received two PPP loans totaling $1.75 million to retain employees.
Plaintiffs also allege the PPP loans received by the defendants were not deposited into the payroll account intended for payroll and other employee expenses.
According to the complaint, in August of 2020, staff salaries were partially restored for all employees and in October of 2020, all managerial salaries were restored in full except for Sharma’s and Mehrotra’s.
In February of 2021, the plaintiffs requested full restoration of their salaries and were terminated, according to the complaint, which also said the plaintiffs were told that their positions were being eliminated as justification for their termination.
The complaint say the elimination of their jobs was pretextual, and that their terminations were illegal and discriminatory. Sharma in the complaint alleges that shortly after being terminated she found an advertisement for a job opening for “Director of Revenue” at the hotel – the position she previously held.
RCBJ reached out to Larry Bain, managing partner of Juniper Capital for comment but did not get a response.