BREAKING: Class Action Lawsuit Alleges Hotel Figueroa Owner BGO and Operators Violated Los Angeles Hotel Worker Retention Law

Los Angeles–Today, a laid-off cook, Maria Ibarra, filed a class action lawsuit alleging violations of Los Angeles’s Hotel Worker Retention Ordinance at the Hotel Figueroa where more than a hundred workers have lost their jobs.

Located at the corner of Figueroa Street and Olympic Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles, the Hotel Figueroa is an iconic 14-floor building, which, in addition to guest rooms, features two destination restaurants, Sparrow Italia and Café Fig, and several other food and beverage outlets.

The hotel has been the site of controversy since, as reported in the LA Times, the hotel’s former food and beverage operator, Noble 33, abruptly terminated its operations and laid off its employees in February.

The lawsuit alleges that the Hotel Figueroa’s owner BGO (formerly GreenOak Real Estate) and operators have violated a city ordinance meant to protect workers’ jobs when there are changes in management by failing to retain them when the new operator took over.

The Hotel Worker Retention Ordinance was enacted to address the problem of mass layoffs of hotel workers that have occurred historically when corporate ownership or management of a hotel changes.  The ordinance requires that new owners or operators retain the site’s employees for a transitional period, ensuring employment stabilization for community members and alleviating the demands for social services for newly-unemployed workers.

The class action lawsuit alleges that, just days after Noble 33 ceased operations and laid off its employees, BGO and its primary operator Highgate contracted with a new company, The Botanical Group, to serve as the operator for the hotel’s Café Fig and other outlets.  Café Fig and other food and beverage operations were quickly reopened, but without their former non-management staff.

“We service workers are not disposable. We’re not something to be tossed aside when we’re no longer convenient. I am filing this lawsuit to make sure our rights are respected,” said Maria Ibarra, the lead plaintiff, a former cook at Hotel Figueroa.

The lawsuit accuses the BGO, Highgate, and Botanical Group of unlawfully failing to retain veteran employees. The suit also alleges that former operator Noble 33 failed to facilitate the transition by timely providing all necessary information about the workers to the other companies.

Ms. Ibarra and the putative class of affected Hotel Figueroa workers are represented by Lauren Teukolsky of Teukolsky Law and Jeremy Blasi in his individual capacity.