Pre-pandemic, Beyoncé 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.
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 hitch: There is an ongoing boycott of the property, led by the local hotel workers’ union, over the Chateau Marmont’s alleged treatment of employees. 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 must move their event and choose an after-party hot spot that treats its workers, especially Black women, with dignity and respect. 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. “I’m a huge fan of Beyoncé and Jay-Z, so working at their Gold Party year after year was such an honor and pleasure,” she said. “They made it a point to acknowledge our hard work and treated us like human beings, not just servers. They said our presence meant a lot to them in terms of helping their party be a success. As I allege in my lawsuit I faced sexual harassment as a Black woman while working other events at Chateau. I can’t help but think if Jay-Z knew how Chateau treats their workers, they wouldn’t ignore this fact and continue to throw parties there.”
Representatives for Jay-Z and the hotel didn’t return requests for comment. The couple have been vocal in the fight for racial equality, leveraging their platforms to speak out on legislation (such as New York State’s recent “Rap Music on Trial” bill) and in support of the Black Lives Matters movement.
In 2020, The Hollywood Reporter published an investigation of allegations against the Chateau Marmont. Employees said that the Chateau’s culture of prejudice extended to its treatment of prominent Black and Latino visitors who were stopped, questioned and challenged on arrival at a higher rate than their white equivalents. A representative for Tiffany Haddish confirmed two such incidents.
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. “There were times when we’d have a Black couple who was trying to have dinner and we had room to accommodate them,” he said. “We would call upstairs, we’d say, ‘an African American couple,’ they’d ask if they were celebrities, and if not, they’d say, ‘We can put them in the dining room,’ which is secluded and where newcomers are seated. The main spot to dine is the garden area, so people seated [inside] felt isolated. Oftentimes they’d go, be disappointed, and then we’d offer them Bar Marmont.”
Chateau owner Andre Balazs, himself the subject of discrimination and harassment claims, has been renovating the Bar Marmont space. Insiders previously described his plans to convert it into a members-only club. Safe deposit boxes have been added for visitors to stow their phones, ensuring privacy.
–Katie Kilkenny contributed additional reporting.
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.