Long Beach, CA – The California Labor Commissioner’s Office issued a citation Monday totalling $4.8 million to the Hyatt Regency Long Beach, alleging that the hotel failed to recall, or to timely recall, workers to their former positions in violation of state law. The citation is the largest citation known to have been issued against a hotel company in state history.
Signed into law in 2021, SB-93 requires hotels, event centers, and other hospitality businesses to offer employees whom they laid off due the COVID-19 downturn in tourism an opportunity to return to work in open positions for which they are qualified in order of seniority. The law, recently extended until December 31, 2024, provides job protection to some 700,000 laid-off housekeepers, cooks, waiters, and others across the state.
Rigoberto Villagrana, who was laid off by the Hyatt Regency after working at the hotel since 1996, said, “Being laid off during the pandemic has been devastating for me and my family. We’ve struggled to pay our mortgage and keep food on the table. I am really glad to see the state stepping in to make sure Hyatt Regency complies with the law.”
The Labor Commissioner’s Office, which is led by Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower, conducted an investigation in response to complaints from workers alleging violations of the recall law.
“Some of these employees had as much as 24 years of experience, and were suddenly out of work due to a public health emergency,” said Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower. “The employer failed to offer them their old jobs back in compliance with the law.”
After investigating Hyatt Regency’s recall practices, the agency issued a citation to Hyatt Regency for $4,799,563.84 in liquidated damages and interest owed to dozens of workers and civil penalties for the hotel’s alleged failure to recall, or timely recall, workers laid-off due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kurt Petersen, co-president of UNITE HERE Local 11, the hospitality workers’ union that fought for the law and helped the workers file complaints, said, “The Hyatt Regency in Long Beach has treated its veteran workers like they are disposable. This kind of behavior is not only immoral, but as the agency’s massive citation shows, it can also be illegal.” He continued, “I commend the Labor Commissioner for conducting such a thorough investigation and showing that our worker protection laws have real teeth.”