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    25 Hyatt Regency Long Beach workers to split $4.8 million fine
    • October 18, 2023

    State regulators fined the Hyatt Regency Long Beach hotel $4.8 millionfor failing to provide timely job offers to 25 workers who were laid off during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic but not rehired when business picked up again.

    The settlement divided equally would amount to $191,000 per employee, a potentially life-changing payday for servers, bartenders, housekeepers, attendants, cashiers, and stewards who struggled to make ends meet during the tourism lockdown.

    Also see: Long Beach hotel workers hail $4-an-hour pay hike in new contract

    The California Labor Commissioner’s Office called that a violation of Senate Bill 93, commonly known as the Right to Recall Law.

    The law — which took effect April 16, 2021, and runs through Dec. 31, 2025 —  requires employers in the hospitality and building services industries to offer available job openings that are the same or similar to jobs held by workers laid off during the pandemic, based on company seniority.

    Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower said the hotel’s failure to rehire the employees is especially unfair to long-time workers.

    “Some of these employees had as much as 24 years of experience and were suddenly out of work due to a public health emergency,” Garcia-Brower said in a statement. “The employer failed to offer them their old jobs back in compliance with the law.”

    Rigoberto Villagrana, who was laid off by the Hyatt Regency after working at the hotel since 1996, said the layoff took a significant toll.

    “Being laid off during the pandemic has been devastating for me and my family,” he said. “We’ve struggled to pay our mortgage and keep food on the table.”

    The Labor Commissioner’s Office began its investigation in September 2022 after receiving complaints from several Hyatt workers. The state issued subpoenas, interviewed employees and conducted depositions of human resources managers.

    The LCO ultimately issued a citation against the hotel for 8,983 aggregate days of violations under SB 93. The law allows liquidated damages of $500 per worker for each day the employee’s recall rights are violated. The $4,799,564 citation will be paid to the 25 affected workers. Specific amounts per worker were not provided by the commissioner’s office.

    The LCO has cited numerous employers for violating the Right to Recall law.

    In July 2022, Terranea Resort paid $1.52 million in a settlement with the agency involving 57 former employees who were laid off but not called back to work in a timely manner after the resort re-opened for business in 2021.

    Each worker received a share of the $1.52 million settlement, with an average payout of $26,500.

    Hyatt Regency’s $4.8 million settlement comes amid a protracted strike among some 15,000 Southern California hotel workers that began over the July 4 weekend.

    The employees, represented by Unite Here Local 11, are seeking an immediate $5-an-hour wage increase to keep pace with the rising cost of housing, in addition to continued family healthcare coverage, upgrades to their pension plan and “humane workloads.”

    The Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites and Biltmore Los Angeles — two of the largest hotels in L.A. — are the only ones that have reached tentative labor agreements with the union.

    Dozens of other hotels, including the JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton LA Live, Beverly Hilton, Fairmont Miramar and Anaheim Hilton, have yet to reach tentative agreements with Unite Here.

    Hundreds of hotel workers at multiple properties near Los Angeles International Airport walked out on strike earlier this month to protest their employers’ proposal “to eliminate affordable healthcare.”

    Employees at the Beverly Wilshire hotel walked off the job Sunday and Monday of this week to voice the union’s same concerns over wages, healthcare coverage, pension plans and workloads.

    Kurt Petersen, Unite Here’s co-president, said it’s imperative that the two sides reach labor agreements, as “LA is the world’s most important tourist destination, with the World Cup and Olympics coming back to back in 2026 and 2028.”

    ​ Orange County Register