Vancouver is all about having trending restaurants and bars that have the coolest decorations. While this art can be fun for the 'gram, one lounge that is frequented by millennials is coming under fire for its artwork. According to a local union group in Vancouver, the neon signage at The Living Room is sexualizing and objectifying women and creating a hostile work environment. A human rights complaint was submitted last week.
The Living Room is a well-known nightclub and lounge that's become a popular destination for it's colourful and fun interiors. It's located in the basement of Hotel Belmont in downtown Vancouver right in the heart of the Granville Entertainment District.
Owned by Jasmine Mooney, this unique facility is plastered with large neon signs, colourful furniture, and unique artwork. While it may seem ordinary to her, a number of people have a problem with what she displays.
Last week, a human rights complaint was submitted to the B.C. Human Right Tribunal by the Unite Here Local 40 union. According to Sharan Pawa, communications specialist for the union, the complaint is surrounding the artwork.
In an interview with Narcity, Pawa stated that the neon signs and paintings in the establishment are objectifying and demeaning to women. She claims that these images create a sexualized environment for the workers.
A simple search on Instagram shows that The Living Room has several sexually suggestive neon signs of female and male naked bodies.
According to Pawa, there is explicit graffiti and language in the stairwell of the facility as well as an image of a naked woman bending over and leaning into a car outside of the men's washroom. Drawings of breasts are also on display in both the men's and woman's washroom.
“We are concerned about the staff because many workers in the hospitality industry are affected by sexual harassment. Many feel that this is too sexual for their work environment,” said Pawa.
The complaint was originally filed by the union including five past and present employees of Hotel Belmont. An additional past and present employees of Hotel Georgia are also named in the complaint. Both Hotel Georgia and Hotel Belmont are owned by Pacific Reach Properties.
"Sexual harassment is a problem for many women working in this industry, and at this hotel in particular. Female servers have been touched, kissed, and have experienced sexual comments and advances from male guests and past managers. I feel that this type of behaviour should not be tolerated," said Sierra Garrison in a press release provided by Pawa.
Pawa made it clear that this complaint stems from the over-sexualized images and how they create a negative working environment.
Now, the union is calling for a number of measures in both hotels owned by Pacific Reach Properties. This includes giving all servers a panic button and banning guests who have sexually assaulted workers in the past.
They are also calling for any and all whistler blowers to not face penalties for their actions. The union would like to see a sexual safety representative investigate any harassment allegations that may come out of the facility.
In order to make this a reality and to raise awareness, there have been four demonstrations that have occurred outside of Hotel Belmont in recent weeks. The first was to speak with Mooney about the women who have come forward about the issue.
That 20-minute discussion took place in August. Since then, there have been three other protests during which time members of the union spoke with hotel guests informing them on what was going on at other hotels.
For the most part, Pawa stated that the members of the public were receptive and supportive. At this time, they are unsure when the next protest will take place.
“The end goal is to keep workers safe. We want to support women who are in this industry,” said Pawa.
Now that the complaint has been filed, it is in the hands of the tribunal. Pawa is unsure what things could look like moving forward, however, she is hoping the images are removed.
Narcity has reached out to Jasmine Mooney for comment.