(CNN) — Donald Trump wanted to fire female employees he considered unattractive and replace them with better-looking women at a golf resort he owned, according to court documents from a 2012 lawsuit.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the court documents detail a lawsuit that alleges Trump pressured employees at the Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos to replace those he viewed to be unattractive female employees over a number of years in the 2000s.
The report comes as Trump has faced renewed criticism that he disrespects women, a narrative fueled by his controversial remarks about a former Miss Universe that he worked with when he owned the beauty pageant. Hillary Clinton raised in Monday’s debate the fact that he called Alicia Machado “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping” after she won his 1996 Miss Universe pageant.
Hayley Strozier, an employee at the golf club until 2008, alleged in a sworn declaration she “had witnessed Donald Trump tell managers many times while he was visiting the club that restaurant hostesses were ‘not pretty enough’ and that they should be fired and replaced with more attractive women.”
According to the LA Times report, the employees said in their lawsuit that they rotated employees schedules “so that the most attractive women were scheduled to work when Mr. Trump was scheduled to be at the club.”
The Trump Organization called the allegations “meritless.”
“We do not engage in discrimination of any kind,” said Jill Martin, vice president and assistant general counsel for The Trump Organization. “The statements made by a group of former disgruntled employees are far from an accurate portrayal of what it is like to work at Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles. Mr. Trump’s sole focus is on ensuring that the facility and operation are providing the highest level of service and an unparalleled golf experience. The only appearance Mr. Trump cares about is that of the facility and the grounds. Rather than looking to old statements from a handful of employees with an ax to grind, the media should focus on the thousands of happy employees, of all races, gender, size and shape, whose lives upon which Mr. Trump has made an incredibly positive impact.”
In the lawsuit, employees claim that Trump’s stated preferences regarding female employees caused managers to value appearance over skill when making hiring and staffing decisions. They also allege that Trump himself made inappropriate and unprofessional comments toward female employees.
The LA Times described the case as a “broad labor relations lawsuit” that is “focused on the course’s high-pressure work culture” in addition to spotlighting the revelations about Trump’s treatment of female employees.
According to the Times’ report, “the bulk of the lawsuit was settled in 2013” with a $475,000 payment to plaintiff employees without any admission of wrongdoing. Another female employee who said she was fired for complaining about the treatment of women at the golf club agreed to a separate settlement with confidential terms.