Terranea Resort to pay $1.52 million to resolve hiring quote – Press Telegram
State regulators reached a $1.52 million settlement with Terranea Resort following a citation issued by the agency in March, alleging the resort violated California law by not rehiring terminated workers in a timely manner.
The California labor commissioner’s office said the settlement resolves the first-ever case under California’s recently enacted back-to-work law. The company has also agreed to recall several veteran employees.
Enacted last year, Senate Bill 93 requires hotels, event centers and other hospitality businesses to offer employees laid off due to the COVID-19-related tourism downturn the opportunity to return to work in vacancies for which they are qualified in order of seniority.
David Gomez Martinez, who was laid off after working at the Rancho Palos Verdes resort for 10 years, said his life hasn’t been easy.
“Being laid off during the pandemic has been devastating to me and my family,” Martinez said in a statement. “We struggled to pay our bills and keep food on the table.”
The labor commissioner’s investigation was prompted by complaints from employees alleging breaches of the recall law. More than a dozen Terranea workers — including servers, cooks and room attendants — have filed complaints.
The investigation found the resort failed to recall, or timely recall, 57 former workers. They will each receive a share of the $1.52 million settlement, with an average payout of $26,500.
Under the law, damages are calculated based on the number of days a worker waits to be offered vacancies for which they are qualified. The company will also pay $5,300 in civil penalties to the State of California.
In a statement on Friday, Terranea said it was committed to bringing back its pre-pandemic workforce in a process that began long before SB 93 took effect.
“We delivered on that commitment, with more than 800 employees returning to the property today,” the company said. “This investigation was the consequence of vague and ill-defined language in SB 93.”
Terranea denies all allegations made in the wage citation.
Terranea workers were at the forefront of the campaign to enact SB-93. Regulators say the company laid off most of its employees without committing to rehire them and also halted their health care at the start of the pandemic.
Kurt Petersen, co-chairman of Unite Here Local 11, which has fought for the law and helped workers file complaints, called it a “tremendous victory”.
“This massive settlement sends a powerful message to the entire hospitality industry that these worker protections have real teeth and companies can violate them at their peril,” Petersen said.
Martinez is happy with the settlement.
“I’m really happy to know that I’m going to get my job back,” he said. “Sad, it took state intervention to make sure Terranea abided by the law.”