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Marriott shareholder to propose 'Holy Land Principles' at annual meeting

Marriott International Inc. shareholder Holy Land Principles Inc. is proposing a set of eight principles regarding equal opportunity employment for corporations operating in Israel and Palestine.

The so-called Holy Land Principles, to be proposed at Marriott's planned May 5 annual stockholders meeting, call on the company's board to make all possible lawful efforts to implement and increase activity on each of the principles, according to a filing.

Among the proposals is adherence to equal and fair employment, training, compensation, advancement, and governance, regardless of national, racial, ethnic or religious identity. The principles also call for identification of underrepresented employee groups and the initiation of active recruitment efforts to increase their representation.

Further, the proposal seeks to ensure that layoffs and termination procedures do not favor a particular group, and that military service is not made a precondition or qualification for employment for positions, other than those that specifically require such experience.

The principles also prohibit the acceptance of subsidies, tax incentives or other benefits that directly benefit one national, racial, religious or ethnic group over another.

Marriott's board recommends shareholders vote against the proposal, noting that its global employment principles, practices and policies, including at its two managed hotels in Israel, already align with the principles. Marriott also pointed out that Israel's equal opportunity law, applicable at managed and franchised hotels in the country, prohibits discrimination in hiring, promoting, training, work conditions and termination of work.

The company's board believes that formal adoption of the proposed principles is neither necessary nor valuable to its business interests or citizenship commitment, and that Marriott's portfolio of more than 6,000 hotels in 122 countries and territories requires a consistent worldwide application of policies as opposed to a country-by-country approach, which would be "inefficient and unduly burdensome."