While The Slap continues to dominate the post-Oscars discourse, seemingly no one has a thing to say about how our most-honored Hollywood elites paid little mind to a group of protestors outside of Jay-Z’s annual Oscars after-party. Instead, they proceeded right over a picket line at the Chateau Marmont, in spite of reports outlining the hotel’s egregious labor practices ranging from racist behavior to sexual misconduct.
Among those in attendance were Kim Kardashian (a woman who no doubt knows a thing or two about unscrupulous labor practices), Tyler Perry (an accused union buster), and Emily Ratajkowski and Rosario Dawson (ironically, Bernie Sanders supporters), in addition to Rihanna, DJ Khaled, Timothée Chalamet, Michael B. Jordan, Mindy Kaling, Tiffany Haddish, and Zoë Kravitz.
The Chateau Marmont, frequented by famed figures for decades—from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Lindsey Lohan—is part of West Hollywood lore. The site of the star-studded soirée is also allegedly the venue of a whole host of workplace injustices. The UNITE HERE Local 11 hospitality union has led a boycott of the luxury hotel since 2020, when at the start of the pandemic it was reported that multi-millionaire owner André Balazs laid off nearly the entire staff sans severance packages or health insurance. More recent claims from employees—especially Black and Latinx staffers—are exceptionally shocking.
In a September 2020 investigation by The Hollywood Reporter, more than 30 staffers detailed allegations of systemic racial discrimination, with employees of color claiming they were subjected to racist remarks and behavior from bosses, as well as sexual harassment from both guests and fellow staffers. One employee was reportedly called “blackie” by a superior, and another told the outlet that the hotel’s managing director instructed them to respond to her with, “Yes, Amassa,” a term associated with enslaved Black people. In later lawsuits from two former employees, Thomasina Gross and Adrian Jules, several instances of unwanted touching from guests and inappropriate text messages from fellow employees were also detailed.
Despite the reports—along with a number of public appeals from union leaders, community organizers, and Black clergymen in solidarity preceding the Academy Awards—Jay-Z declined to relocate his event. In response, amidst a melee of celebrities’ security staff and SUVs, hotel employees, community advocates, and other supporters held what the union deemed a “red carpet picket line” for several hours outside of the Chateau Marmont’s entrance.
However, the protest garnered the support of stars like Jane Fonda, Spike Lee, Issa Rae, Gabrielle Union, Samira Wiley, Robin Thede, Ashley Nicole Black, and Alfonso Cuarón, who pledged to stand with workers by not returning to the hotel until their concerns are addressed. Even accused predator Casey Affleck, upon hearing about the boycott from organizers on site, offered a “thumbs-up” and didn’t enter the party.
“It is disappointing and frustrating that Jay-Z, Michael B. Jordan, Rihanna, DJ Khaled, Zoë Kravitz, and other Hollywood elites chose to prioritize their party, and their fame, over real people,” said Keisha Banks, a former events server at the Chateau Marmont. “It might just be one party to them but these are people’s livelihoods. They could be using their celebrity to get someone like André Balazs to listen to his workers. Why would they want to be associated with a hotel that discriminates and cheats its employees?”
Hypocrisy is as rife in Hollywood as uber-rich sex pests and increasingly simplistic superhero movies. But when celebrities, who are all too eager to make acceptance speeches about social injustices, reveal they’d rather be served than stand alongside those who support the celebrity class, we reach a different level of shamelessness. Now, where’s our trophy for pretending to be shocked?