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Real Estate Exec Fired for ‘Personal, Inappropriate’ Relationship With Employee

The $5.5 billion Park Hotels & Resorts REIT has publicly ousted its asset management chief.

Park Hotels & Resorts — the real estate investment trust owner of the New York Hilton Midtown and other flagship properties — has fired its executive vice president of asset management for an “inappropriate” relationship. 

Robert Tanenbaum “was terminated by Park for cause after an investigation determined that he had engaged in a personal, inappropriate, and consensual relationship with a Park employee as well as inappropriate communications,” the $5.5 billion REIT announced publicly Tuesday. 

Tanenbaum’s relationship and communications violated company policies and core values, the statement said. 

Park Hotel’s operations and financial performance did not factor into the dismissal, according to the firm, which is the second-largest listed lodging REIT. 

Tanenbaum led a portfolio of 67 hotels including the Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton properties in Hawaii, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York during his three years at Park, per financial statements and his LinkedIn profile. 

Tanenbaum did not respond to a request for comment by time of publication. 

Park Hotel’s actions echo BlackRock’s move last month to publicly fire top executive Mark Wiseman for his undisclosed affair.

[II Deep Dive: BlackRock Fires Mark Wiseman for Failing to Disclose Romantic Relationship With Colleague]

“High-profile situations like this one and the recent termination at BlackRock shows that financial services companies are taking these issues more seriously than they have in the past,” industry consultant Sonya Dreizler — an expert in workplace harassment and discrimination — said during a Tuesday phone interview.  

She lauded the proactive conduct, and suggested three reasons why firms may be abandoning the industry-standard “sweep it under the rug” approach.    

“First, the #MeToo movement,” Dreizler said. “Second, a real fear of bad press, with companies having witnessed that in other industries. And finally, one that’s less talked about: the increasing cost of employment-practices liability insurance,” which covers sexual harassment and assault claims. 

“Insurers have identified financial services as a high risk, and they’re no longer insuring some companies,” Dreizler explained, citing a 2019 study. “That can get expensive.” 

She declined to speculate on Park Hotel’s specific situation, given the bare details in the press release. 

Corporations increasingly recognize the price tag on doing nothing about discrimination, harassment, and power-asymmetric sexual relationships in the workplace, Dreizler said. “If one person is accused and it’s covered up or that person is not terminated, they may just do it again. It’s often the same people, and losing talent over and over again from harassment is very costly.”

Why go public rather than simply fire alleged offenders behind boardroom doors?

“I don’t know details,” she cautioned. Hypothetically, “it’s possible that their employees understand what we do not, and the company wants to convey a clear message. Getting out in front of a story — instead of waiting for the press to go digging around — is also probably wise.” 

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