The manager of the luxurious New York Palace Hotel was fired after obscenely ordering a Catholic employee to clean the ashes from his forehead on Ash Wednesday.
According to the New York Daily News, on Feb. 25 the hotel’s managing director Niklaus Leuenberger told bell captain Mike Murray “Wipe that f-----g s--t off your face,” referring to the ashes Murray had received at an Ash Wednesday service.
The 893-room five-star hotel is 55 stories tall and is on Madison Avenue across the street from St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The hotel leases its land from the Catholic Church.
Hotel spokeswoman Teresa Delaney told the Daily News that Leuenberger’s employment was terminated as of Monday. He had worked at the hotel since May 2007.
Christopher Cowdray, head of the London-based Dorchester Collection which owns the hotel, flew to New York City to personally end Leuenberger’s employment.
“We take the well-being of our employees extremely seriously and that is why our CEO, Mr. Cowdray, went to New York in person to deal with this matter,” the company said.
Bell captain Murray said the general manager wanted the ashes off, “and he knows he was wrong.” He told the Daily News that he had never been approached on a religious issue before. Murray, who had worked at the hotel for 25 years, also said he had no plans to sue.
Nigel Badminton, who was previously the resident manager at the Dorchester in London, is now the acting general manager at the New York Palace.