By Joanne Bladd
Le Méridien Al Aqah says staff safety is top priority after ex-employee sues over rape claims
The management of a UAE luxury hotel where an Australian ex-employee claims she was drugged and raped has said staff safety is its paramount priority.
The Le Méridien Al Aqah, a five-star hotel in the emirate of Fujairah, is facing legal action over claims it failed in its workplace duty of care to Alicia Gali, a former beauty salon manager at the resort.
The 29-year-old claims her drink was spiked and she was raped by three co-workers in June 2008. After reporting the assault to UAE authorities, she was subsequently jailed on an adultery charge and spent eight months in prison. She was pardoned in March 2009.
A spokesperson for Le Méridien Al Aqah said the hotel was aware of the incident and that staff safety was “a paramount priority”.
“The matter was investigated thoroughly by local United Arab Emirates authorities at that time. The local authorities applied local laws and determined that it was appropriate to incarcerate Ms. Gali and the other individuals involved in this matter,” the spokesperson said, adding the hotel had supported Gali throughout the incident.
“Including assisting with medical support, arranging for financial support, assistance with the investigation, liaising with her representative embassy and arranging for her family to come to the UAE from Australia.”
According to media reports of a hearing in Brisbane Supreme Court last week, Gali has been granted leave to sue the hotel – which is owned by international group Starwood Hotels – for breaching its workplace obligations to her.
Her lawyer, Melissa Payne, said the hotel should have had segregated secure quarters for female employees and provided adequate induction training on the local laws and customs.
“They are not complying with human rights, women's rights and migrant workers' rights,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald.
It is likely the lawsuit will be heard in Queensland courts, Payne said. "This is a complex area of law, but we are exploring all options," she told the paper.
She said the compensation amount had not yet been determined.
Instead of punishing the perpetrators, the rape victim was jailed for adultery after reporting the assult to UAE authorities?
It seems the law is discouraging rape victims from speaking up and condemned to suffer in silence in this part of the world.
The circumstances in June 2008 concerning Alicia Gali, a former employee of the Le MÃ©ridien Al Aqah hotel, were deplorable. While the hotel worked diligently on Ms. Galiâ€™s behalf, the authorities investigated and prosecuted the case under the local laws. Additionally, the men involved were also prosecuted and each served prison terms before being deported. As for Ms. Galiâ€™s lawsuit, we disagree with the allegations.
The hotel management provided support and assistance to Ms. Gali and her family throughout that time including assisting with medical support, arranging for financial support, assistance with the investigation, liaising with her representative Australian embassy and coordinating and arranging affairs with her family in Australia.
As this matter is part of an open investigation, we cannot comment further at this time.
The safety and security of our associates and guests continues to be a paramount priority.
Absolutely disgusting . I've stayed at the Le MÃ©ridien Al Aqah before with my family and will not go near the place after reading this.
Since when do you get jailed for being raped? What kind of "law" is this?
The perpetrators (who were all foreign nationals by the way) were punished and served jail time.
Alicia was not jailed because she was raped, or because she reported the incident. She must have admitted during her police report that she has had male visitors to her room on previous occasions.
This is an offence in the UAE, one that cannot be overlooked.
e.g. If you report someone stealing a laptop from your car, and police find out that "your" car is actually stolen, you will go to jail for stealing the car, not because you reported the theft.
She should not have mentioned her relationship with men and focused on the rape complaint.
yes tis is a good valid argument by Michelle pls. migrant workers rights too....
This did not happen in the West or Singapore. Our laws are different from yours. If you don't like the laws in the Middle East, or any of the countries here, then simply don't come here.
It is a person's responsibility to know - and follow - the laws of the country where they reside or visit...
The simple answer I gather why Alicia was jailed for 8 months.
1- she must have had relationship with one or more of the accused persons. It seems she must have admitted her sin which she was involved in before rape incident. I have been resident in UAE and I know the law is fair and give chance to defend all regardless of nationality or race.
Mazen, same on our end, do us both a favor and stay in your country and leave us alone. And take all those in Europe who feel the same way back home with you and stay there.
I've lived here all my life. And I know for a fact that the law, no matter how ridiculous it may seem to outsiders, is still more helpful for females in such cases. As a Muslim country the authorities are more concerned about the female person in such cases. So I find it hard to believe if anything wrong was done to the victim. There must be more to the story that is not being reported as starwoods is not a local chain, it is a worldwide brand that cannot accept such things so easily. There is more to the story than is being told.