Lawsuit accuses Purgatory Resort of gender discrimination

Friday, April 8, 2016 1:07 PM

A former employee is suing Purgatory Resort, claiming gender discrimination.

According to a six-page complaint filed last month in Denver federal court, two vice presidents at Purgatory told Meghan Jager, a mother of three, that she wouldn’t be considered for a job promotion because it would require long days, weekend work and significant travel. The job, they said, wouldn’t be appropriate “for a mother.”

Jager and her attorney, Daniel Kalish of Denver, declined to comment for this story.

In a prepared statement Friday, Purgatory Resort CEO Gary Derck called it a frivolous lawsuit with no factual evidence. Jager submitted a similar complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which investigated the claim and dismissed it without merit, Derck said.

“Purgatory is committed to fostering a diverse workplace environment that supports working moms and dads,” he wrote in the statement. “More than half of Purgatory’s current middle- and upper-level managers are women (which we believe is a much higher percentage than the ski industry overall). And the resort offers numerous policies/programs that support working moms/dads and their families, including childcare subsidy programs and flexible schedules for working parents.”

Jager is seeking in excess of $75,000 in compensatory and emotional distress damages.

According to the complaint, Jager worked as the event fulfillment manager during the 2014-15 winter season. It was her job to plan, execute and organize events for the resort.

The part-time position was scheduled to end April 5, 2015, but in early December 2014, Derck asked Jager if she would serve on the 50th anniversary committee, which she believed would allow her to work full-time or at least be hired for the summer and 2015-16 winter season.

On March 5, Jager was told by Judy Wachob, vice president of village services, and Greg Ralph, vice president of marketing and sales, that the position would not focus on events, but instead assist the wedding coordinator and the sales teams at trade shows, the complaint says.

It would require her to be on the road for a significant amount of time, and it wouldn’t be appropriate for a mother of young children, the executives told her, according to the complaint.

Jager made a complaint to the human resources department about the decision not to rehire her for the summer position because she was a mother. A few days later, Jager met with Wachob and Ralph, who said they were previously talking to her “as a friend,” the lawsuit says. Ralph promised that once the position was posted, he would personally contact her and let her know so that she could apply.

A position posted April 13, 2015, with a new title, and it was given to a man.

“Mr. Ralph never contacted plaintiff as promised to inform her about the new position and ask that she apply,” the lawsuit says.

Several coworkers expressed dismay that Jager wasn’t considered for the position. Ralph responded by saying, “Let’s move on,” the lawsuit says.

Purgatory Resort decided in advance not to hire Jager because she was a mother and because it felt the job would be too demanding and difficult for a mother with three young children, the lawsuit says.