Workers at Santa Monica’s Le Merigot hotel filed a complaint Wednesday with the California Labor Commission, alleging thousands of dollars in lost wages and rest and meal-break violations.
According to a press release issued Thursday by UNITE HERE Local 11, the regional hospitality workers’ union, the complaint was “filed by housekeeping staff who say that management assigns heavy workloads which housekeepers have difficulty completing within an eight-hour shift.”
At the time of publication, Le Merigot management had not returned a request for comment.
Workers at Le Merigot voted to unionize last November and have been in negotiations with management since. In the press release, UNITE HERE states that “[i]n order to finish their assignments, workers say they have no choice but to work through breaks and, at times, off the clock.”
Housekeeper Aurelia Gonzalez said in the release, “I feel pressure to come in before my shift to load my cart, and work through my breaks. I’m afraid of the repercussions if I don’t finish.”
Another housekeeper, Blanca Guerrero, said, “If I don’t come in before my shift to load my cart with shampoo, linens, towels etc. I won’t be able to finish my rooms in time. I feel like I have no choice.”
In the release, UNITE HERE notes that California state law mandates that workers get two paid rest breaks and an unpaid 30-minute meal break every eight-hour shift and that if workers work more than eight hours, they are paid 150 percent of their hourly rate.
The release notes that wage theft is not uncommon. “While California has some of the country’s strongest wage and hour laws, wage-theft remains such an issue that a 2013 UCLA Labor Center report estimated that workers in Los Angeles lose an estimated $26.2 million a week,” according to UNITE HERE.
UNITE HERE officials anticipate that more complaints will come forward in coming weeks.