Suit alleges Minneapolis Hilton sex party, retaliation

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 5, 2008 - 8:45 PM

Two former employees of the Hilton Minneapolis said they saw hotel executives engaged in a drunken orgy. Hilton denies the allegations.

Two former Hilton Minneapolis employees say they saw executives of the hotel having a drunken sex party in a banquet room and their complaints about what they encountered cost them their jobs.

The allegations, which Hilton officials denied Thursday, are made in lawsuits filed last week in federal court by Deborah Smith, 43, of Coon Rapids, and April Bezdichek, 25, who now lives in southern California.

Smith, who was night manager of the hotel's Skywater Restaurant from April 2006 to December 2007, contends in her suit that she was subjected to "unwelcome sexual conduct" and retaliation for going to management, then eventually fired.

She alleges that she opened the door to a hotel banquet room and saw "an orgy involving Hilton upper management."

"She saw various Hilton executives inebriated and engaging in sexual acts," the suit continues. "In fact, she observed Hilton executives on top of a table engaging in sexual activity."

After walking away, the suit contends, a hotel manager threatened her with firing.

Following a "campaign of harassment and retaliation" against Smith, the suit says, she was fired.

Bezdichek, who was a server, alleges that she didn't know the orgy was going on until the same hotel manager brought her to the banquet room. Her suit says the manager exposed himself "pulled her onto his lap and pumped her up and down."

Bezdichek also alleges that the manager had previously grabbed her breasts.

After she complained, her suit says, she was forced to resign in October 2007 because she was "shunned" and was no longer being called in to work.

The suits seek, among other things, monetary compensation and reimbursement for lost pay and benefits.

In responses filed Thursday, Hilton denies Smith's and Bezdichek's allegations of any misconduct. The Hilton also says that Smith was not fired but her "employment ended" when she failed to return from a leave of absence.

A third former employee, bartender Harley Gayle, 41, of Columbia Heights, also has sued the Hilton alleging sexual harassment. The Hilton has filed a denial in this case as well.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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