For immediate release
April 27, 2011
Fired workers recently assisted in on-going State investigation into allegations of illegal tax and employment practices at two HEI hotels
LONG BEACH – The HEI‐owned Hilton Long Beach hotel has fired five housekeepers after three of them complained to management about unfair working conditions at the hotel. The fired workers made the announcement Wednesday, April 27 at a press conference outside the hotel.
All of the fired women had worked at the hotel for two to four years, but the hotel considered them "temporary agency" employees. Even though they worked along‐side permanent housekeepers, they were paid under the table without a legal paycheck.
Some of the fired housekeepers had also recently participated in an on‐going State investigation into the legality of their employment arrangement.
- Had no payroll tax deducted from their checks
- Received no job‐related benefits
- Received no sick days, vacation days and holidays
"I didn’t realize I was an ‘agency’ employee until I got my first check and noticed it was different than other housekeepers’ checks," said Veronica Flores, a fired housekeeper and single mother. "For four years, I gave 100 percent to the Hilton Long Beach, missing my children’s birthdays and school meetings to work every time the manager called. And getting fired is my thank you."
The HEI‐owned Hilton Long Beach hired and supervised all the fired housekeepers directly, but the women were paid "under‐the‐table" — via a check without the deductions required by law from a rarely seen individual who, in theory, runs a temporary employment agency. Hotel managers distributed the workers’ paychecks.
California’s Employment Development Department and the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement are investigating tax and employment practices at the Hilton Long Beach and nearby Embassy Suites Irvine, also a HEI‐managed hotel.
HEI Hotels is an investment company that owns and operates more than 30 hotels across the country. HEI raises capital to buy hotels from university endowments such as those of Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Notre Dame and more.
The housekeepers said their firing came just two days after three of the women complained about unfair working conditions to the Hilton Long Beach human resources director.
"It’s not fair that we work hard, and then get thrown away like garbage," said Maria Medina, a fired housekeeper. "I do the same work, wear the same uniform and take orders from the same manager as other housekeepers, yet we are paid less and treated worse than the permanent employees."
On Wednesday, clergy, community and political allies confronted Hilton Long Beach managers, requesting they reinstate the workers as full‐time, permanent hotel employees.
UNITE HERE Local 11, Southern California’s hospitality union, represents more than 20,000 hotel and food service workers in Los Angeles and Orange counties. www.unitehere11.org