For immediate release
August 5, 2010
213-481-8530 ext. 253 or 323-533-3864
Irvine Hotel Workers Demand $180,000 in Back Pay for Years of Denied Breaks
Complaints say Embassy Suites management violated state law
Irvine, CA: Hotel workers from the HEI-owned Embassy Suites hotel in Irvine filed complaints today demanding back pay – of more than $180,000 collectively — for missed breaks.
More than 50 percent of the hotel’s non-management staff filed the complaints, with the majority saying they have been repeatedly denied the 10-minute breaks entitled by state law. Workers submitted the complaints with the California Department of Industrial Relations, a state office that enforces labor standards.
"In the two and one-half years that I have worked at the hotel, I have almost never had time to take my 10-minute breaks," said Argelia Rico, a housekeeper at the Embassy Suites. "The workload is too great, and there is no time."
"I am required to clean 15-17 suites in one shift, which means making up to 45 beds a day," Rico continued.
California state law allows workers two 10-minute breaks and one 30-minute break in an eight-hour shift. According to the law, for every day that a break is missed, the worker is entitled to one hour of back pay from the employer.
Several workers blamed short staffing for the missed breaks.
"On average, I miss a lunch break almost every week, and I’ve almost never had a 10-minute break," said Andrew Cohen, a front desk agent. "One night when we were so under staffed, a manager told me to clock out for my 30-minute break but ordered me to come back to the front desk. I feel like I’ve been robbed. I want to be paid for the time when I was forced to work when I should have been allowed a break."
"Because we are so under staffed, it’s unrealistic to think that I’m going to get a 10-minute break," said Rachele Smith, a front desk agent who has worked at the hotel for two and one-half years. "If the hotel just scheduled more people to work, we probably wouldn’t have these problems."
The Embassy Suites is located at 2120 Main Street in Irvine. It is owned by HEI Hotels and Resorts, one of the fastest growing private owner/operators of hotels, and the 7th largest hotel management company in the US..