|By Karen Robes Meeks, Press-Telegram,
Long Beach, Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 8, 2009 - LONG BEACH -- In an effort to improve work conditions and recover wages allegedly owed to them and co-workers, three Hyatt Regency Long Beach employees are suing the hotel and its parent company on behalf of themselves and more than 200 colleagues.
Outside of the California Superior Court building in downtown Los Angeles Thursday, plaintiffs Celia Alvarez, Bejamin Cuison, Benjamin Leonen and their attorneys announced their filing of a class action lawsuit against the hotel company, which they say violated several state labor laws.
The complaint alleges that the Hyatt did not pay workers for all the hours worked, did not allow them to take meal and rest breaks, did not compensate them for missing those breaks, did not pay legally required minimum wage and overtime, among other violations.
For instance, housekeepers work through breaks and off the clock to clean a quota of 22-30 rooms daily, about double the number of rooms those in unionized hotels have to clean.
"As a result of the demands, the employees must work at a back-breaking pace or risk losing their jobs," said Randy Renick, an attorney representing the plaintiffs.
Leonen, a line cook, said he sometimes cannot take bathroom breaks.
"Sometimes, I want to go to the restroom but I can not take the break because nobody (can) relieve me," he said. "And I told them I am not a robot. I'm just a human."
In a statement Thursday, the Chicago-based company said
it has not yet received a copy of the lawsuit and was not in a position to reply to specific allegations.
The company did say it was not aware of any labor violations at the Long Beach hotel.
"Hyatt is committed to offering a great work environment and a competitive compensation structure," according to the company's statement. "It is important to us that we are in compliance with the law and to ensure our employees are paid competitively. We take these kind of allegations very seriously. Hyatt has an excellent record of treating employees fairly and with respect."
A hearing date has not yet been set.
"We'll proceed with litigation and hope to soon see our day in court, where our clients can seek justice on behalf of all the employees," Renick said.
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