A former Travel Leaders Group executive, Mabelle Meyaart, has filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming she was unfairly passed over for promotions, sexually harassed and wrongfully terminated.

Travel Leaders CEO Ninan Chacko and president of Travel Leaders Network and Leisure Group John Lovell were named as defendants. The lawsuit alleges that Lovell "solicited Mrs. Meyaart for sex, made lewd comments, leered at her and commented on her appearance repeatedly over the years."

The lawsuit was filed in February in West Palm Beach (where Meyaart worked for Travel Leaders) in U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida.

The lawsuit says, "Notwithstanding her proven track record of success and competencies, Mrs. Meyaart was, at various times, passed over for promotions, demoted, underpaid, had bonuses reduced over time without justification, denied salary increases, denied equal pay, defamed, unfairly criticized, propositioned for sex, harassed, and ultimately wrongfully terminated without cause."

The suit also claims that Travel Leaders Group has a "warped corporate culture," and describes the company as "toxic, male-dominated, good 'ole boy, misogynistic, and dysfunctional, which victimized and discriminated against women."

In a document filed with the court, Travel Leaders says Meyaart's claims are "meritless" and that the lawsuit should be "dismissed with prejudice in its entirety."

"We will vigorously defend that position and have no further comment on this litigation beyond our filing," Travel Leaders said.

Meyaart worked for the company from June 25, 2012, until she was "unceremoniously and wrongfully terminated without cause under false pretenses supposedly because of a bogus elimination of her position" on July 24, 1017, according to the lawsuit.

She had been brought into the company to create its hotel division, and held several positions, including senior vice president of hotel strategies, vice president of worldwide hotel program strategies, and vice president of engagement and distribution strategies.

The lawsuit states Meyaart grew the hotel division's earnings before interest, taxes depreciation and amortization by 400% in four years, among other achievements, and received accolades from others within the company. It also states she was "promised" larger roles in the organization by Lovell on several occasions when other colleagues were present.

Meyaart alleges she was told she was terminated during a call with Lovell on July 25, 2017, because there were no roles available for her. However, the day before, a man was hired to be the new senior vice president of strategic partnerships, according to the lawsuit. Meyaart says she was qualified for the position, but the job was not posted and she was not interviewed for it.

When terminated, Meyaart was not informed why her position was eliminated over others, nor why another position could not be found within the company, the suit states.

"Several officers and members of the board of directors expressed shock that Mrs. Meyaart was summarily terminated," the lawsuit states. "Mrs. Meyaart was given no opportunity to fight for her job and be considered for any other position within her entire organization. It was obvious that she was forced out of Travel Leaders Group for malevolent and unjustified reasons."

The suit claims that Meyaart was not given a raise in five years, and that she was at the top of the salary band. Meanwhile, the complaint lists instances in which men were hired for positions at higher salaries than Meyaart's, even though the men had little experience, Meyaart alleges.

"If Mrs. Meyaart was a male, she would not have been terminated," the lawsuit says.

The suit also claims that people within and outside of Travel Leaders Group knew about the company's "warped corporate culture," and that there are additional victims of sexual discrimination.

Meyaart is seeking a jury trial, wages she believes are owed to her (including back pay, front pay, bonuses and lost wages), legal fees, damages and relief deemed just by the court.

Comments
JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI