The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office in partnership with the Wage Enforcement Program of the County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA) successfully resolved two wage enforcement cases at the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica. One case was against Loews Hotel itself and the second case was against Flowers and Hewes, Inc, a retail establishment within the Loews Hotel.
After receiving numerous complaints of potential wage violations, investigator Rudy Saenz of DCBA – contracted to enforce the City’s minimum wage law – conducted an extensive investigation and uncovered significant Santa Monica wage related violations at both Loews and Flowers & Hewes. Some employees at the Loews Hotel were paid as little as $2.86 per hour, well below the City’s hotel minimum wage rate of $13.25 as of July 1, 2016 and $15.66 as of July 1, 2017. As a result, Investigator Saenz, in coordination with City prosecutors, administratively charged both with multiple counts of Santa Monica minimum-wage-related violations.
After being charged, both Loews and Flowers & Hewes admitted to every charged wage violation and agreed to pay full restitution to a total of 23 affected employees (totaling over $12,000), and agreed to pay $9,210 in penalties.
“It is paramount in each of our wage enforcement cases that the affected employees receive full restitution for their back wages and that the employer is educated about the City’s wage laws. This case successfully achieved both results,” said Chief Deputy City Attorney Yibin Shen. “Combating growing income inequality and improving the welfare of the City’s workers are core objectives of the City’s minimum wage laws. We look forward to continuing our aggressive education and enforcement with our Los Angeles County wage enforcement partners to ensure that the City’s workers, particularly those in low-wage positions, receive fair wages and fair treatment from employers while working in the City of Santa Monica.”
“Employers must pay their workers fairly and comply with all wage laws,” said Joseph M. Nicchitta, interim director of the County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer and Business Affairs. “DCBA’s Wage Enforcement investigators and counselors work tirelessly to promote a fair marketplace. We appreciate our partners in the City of Santa Monica for allowing us to help workers in the city earn a fair wage, and ensure that employers who follow the law do not face unfair competition from those who skirt the rules.”
To report violations of the Santa Monica minimum wage law, please contact the Santa Monica Wage Enforcement Program of the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs at 800-593-8222, online at dcba.lacounty.gov/minimum-wage/ or in person at 500 West Temple Street, B96, Los Angeles, California 90012.
For more information about minimum wage in Santa Monica, visit smgov.net/minimumwage.
Submitted by Constance Farrell, Santa Monica Public Information Officer