Jay-Z Oscar Party Draws Criticism for Ignoring Chateau Marmont Boycott

Jay-Z Oscar Party Draws Criticism for Ignoring Chateau Marmont Boycott thumbnail

Pre-pandemic, Beyonce and Jay-Z‘s Oscars afterparty in the Chateau Marmont’s parking garage had become the most coveted invite of the big night. Revelers at the 2020 event, known as the Gold Party, which features a no-phones policy, included Rihanna, Reese Witherspoon, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Travis Scott, Gabrielle Union and Charlize Theron.

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Now, after a two-year absence, Jay-Z is set to throw the Oscar-night event in a lounge space on the Sunset Strip hotel’s storied property that was once home to Bar Marmont. The problem: A boycott of the property is ongoing by the local hotel workers’ union over the Chateau Marmont employees’ treatment. The campaign — which has the backing of an array of Hollywood unions and celebrities and has already put a stop to at least two production shoots (for Being the Ricardos and The Offer) — has highlighted claims of racial discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace.

“For Jay-Z to choose the Chateau Marmont for their Gold Party is shockingly insensitive,” said Kurt Petersen, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11, in a statement. “They should move their event and choose a hot spot for after-party that treats its workers, particularly Black women, with dignity. Jay-Z has a responsibility to do better.” He added: “We hope Jay-Z joins Gabrielle Union, Spike Lee, Issa Rae, Robin Thede, Quinta Brunson, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Roxane Gay, Ashley Nicole Black and Samira Wiley in boycotting Chateau Marmont.” All of the names noted by Petersen, per the union, have previously signed its boycott pledge.

The union – whose boycott is also supported by the WGA — has initiated plans to organize a picket line outside of the party, beginning at 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 27.

Thomasina Gross, a former events server at the hotel who is Black, filed a lawsuit against the hotel in 2021 alleging, among other issues, racial discrimination, noting that she’d been repeatedly passed over for higher-paying roles in favor of several white hires who she in turn was responsible for training in their new duties. She said, “I’m a big fan of Jay-Z and Beyonce so working at their Gold Party every year was such a pleasure and honor.” They made it a point of acknowledging our hard work and treated us as human beings, not servers. They said that our presence was important to them as it helped their party succeed. In my lawsuit, I claim that I was subject to sexual harassment as a Black woman working at Chateau. I can’t help but wonder if Jay-Z would have noticed how Chateau treats its workers and wouldn’t continue throwing parties there .”

Representatives of Jay-Z and the Hotel didn’t respond to requests for comment. The couple have been vocal in the fight to racial equality. They leveraged their platforms to speak out on legislation (such the New York State’s recent “Rap Music on Trial”) and in support the Black Lives Matters movement.

In 2020, The Hollywood Reporter published an investigation of allegations against the Chateau Marmont. Employees claimed that the Chateau’s culture was prejudiced in its treatment of prominent Black and Latino visitors, who were stopped, questioned, and challenged upon arrival at a higher level than their white counterparts. Two such incidents were confirmed by Tiffany Haddish’s representative.

In THR‘s story, Jimmy Cahue, a former guest relations staffer who had worked at the hotel since 1995, said there was an exclusionary screening process at the Chateau Marmont which involved Bar Marmont. He said that there were occasions when a Black couple wanted to have dinner at the hotel and they had enough room. “We would call upstairs and say, “an African American couple,” and they’d ask if celebrities were involved. If not, they’d tell us that they could put them in our dining room, which is quiet and where newcomers can sit. People seated in the garden area feel isolated. They’d often go and be disappointed. Then we’d offer them Bar Marmont .

Chateau’s owner Andre Balazs has been renovating the Bar Marmont area. Balazs is also the subject of harassment and discrimination claims. Insiders have previously reported that he plans to turn it into a members-only club. Visitors can store their phones in safe deposit boxes, which protects their privacy.

-Katie Kilkenny contributed additional reporting.

This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.

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