On December 28, 2018, a regional office of the National Labor Relations Board--an independent agency of the federal government charged with enforcing federal labor law--filed a legal complaint against the operator of the Terranea Resort alleging that it fired worker leader Freddy Lovato because of his activism to improve working conditions at the resort.
The Terranea recently fired Freddy Lovato, a cook at the resort. Freddy is a key leader in the fight for a fair process to organize a union who has even been quoted in the LA Times about conditions at the resort. Terranea managers say they fired him because he didn’t throw away some chicken wings, but workers believe that the real reason Terranea fired Freddy was for his vocal role in the labor dispute. Does firing a worker over some chicken wings sound right to you?
On May 31st, 2018 Terranea management settled five separate cases with the NLRB over allegations that Terranea has violated workers’ rights under federal law. As part of the settlement, Terranea will be required to post notices at the workplace notifying employees that in the future Terranea managers will not “threaten employees with calling the police, or in fact call the police to remove or otherwise prevent employees from lawfully distributing union literature” nor “change employees’ work schedules based on whether they support the union or not,” among other commitments. Still, Terranea refused to admit that it did anything wrong under the law. More importantly, Terranea will still not agree to remain neutral as workers decide whether or not they want a union.
Time Magazine recognized Sandra Pezqueda as one its People of the Year in 2017 for being a “Silence Breaker.” Sandra is an immigrant mother who washed dishes at the Terranea Resort. After Sandra came forward to report sexual harassment, she was fired. Sandra filed a lawsuit alleging discrimination and retaliation against the Terranea and the staffing agency that placed her there. In April 2018, the staffing agency agreed to pay her $250,000 resolve all claims raised in the lawsuit.
As covered in the Los Angeles Times, on October 19, 2017, Terranea workers filed a class action lawsuit alleging that the resort has subjected them to numerous wage and hour violations, including failure to pay for all hours worked, the denial of meal and rest breaks, and failure to reimburse for work supplies. Workers also allege that the resort’s requirement that employees take company shuttles from off-site parking lots in order to make room for guests (while failing to pay workers for the additional travel time) is unlawful. The lawsuit is pending in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Workers at the resort merely want to be treated with respect. Josh Eidelson, writing for Bloomberg, quotes a cook at the hotel: “‘Everything looks so beautiful in front of the house, but if you go in back of the house, where we are, it’s terrible,’ said Terranea cook Freddy Lovato, who’s worked at the resort for nine years. With customers living it up while employees toil, he said, ‘I always picture the “Titanic” movie.’”