Terranea Resort has settled a class-action lawsuit and will pay $2.15 million to its workers, who said the resort underpaid them and violated other regulations.
The agreement comes amid an ongoing effort to unionize there.
The two sides reached the agreement on Friday, April 26, but Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Amy D. Hogue still needs to review it before it is finalized. Still, the three named plaintiffs — resort workers Galen Landsberg, Marvin Alvarenga and Alvin Merino — would each receive $7,500. Their lawyers could receive up to one-third of the $2.15 million settlement amount. And the rest would be divided among those who’ve worked at the resort since October 2013, according to the agreement.
There are nearly 3,000 workers identified as part of the class-action suit, according to Lauren Teukolsky, an attorney representing the workers.
The resort settled the case to avoid a lengthy legal battle that would have largely benefited attorneys, Terranea President Terri Haack said in a statement.
“We are confident that we would have prevailed in court,” Haack said Friday, “but believe our resources are better spent delivering exceptional experiences at Terranea that support our employees, enchant our guests and strengthen our community.”
Landsberg, a cook at Mar’sel restaurant, and Alvarenga, a server at Catalina Kitchen, first filed the class action in June 2017, arguing the resort required workers to falsely file time cards that showed they took meal breaks and didn’t pay them for overtime. The resort also failed to pay workers for time spent traveling on company-required parking shuttles, they argued. That same week, Unite Here Local 11 — for which plaintiff attorney Jeremy Blasi works — held a rally at the resort, part of its attempts to organize employees there.
During the discovery phase of the lawsuit, Tuekolsky said, the plaintiffs’ attorneys received more than 30 sworn statements from Terranea employees making allegations similar to those of Landsberg and Alvarenga.
But the lawsuit began to change things, Teukolsky said on Tuesday, April 30.
The resort — known for its tranquil clifftop views overlooking the Pacific Ocean — made several changes to its policies after the lawsuit was filed. Terranea, for example, now includes a written policy allowing hourly employees to get reimbursed if they purchase their own equipment, and the resort has since begun providing more equipment, such as cooking utensils, Tuekolsky said.
Prior to the lawsuit, Tuekolsky added, employees were required to monitor radios during meal and rest breaks and to interrupt their breaks to respond to calls from supervisors.
“Only after we filed this lawsuit,” Teukolsky said, “did employees report that supervisors instructed them to turn off their radios during breaks, in compliance with the law, which requires duty-free breaks.”