Valencia hotel owners to pay $110k over minimum wage violations

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Dozens of workers at Hilton Garden Inn Valencia Six Flags won a $110,000 settlement between the owners of the chain-branded hotel over minimum wage violations, Los Angeles County officials announced. 

The Valencia hotel, located in the unincorporated area of the county at 27710 The Old Road, agreed to pay more than $10,000 in back wages and $100,000 in fines for not following L.A. County’s minimum wage ordinance to 40 employees, 25 of whom are women, for a total of $110,488.69.

The agreement follows a months-long investigation that started in April by the county’s Department of Consumer and Business Affairs’ Wage Enforcement Program, which revealed the hotel had underpaid 40 employees for a six-month period in 2016, according to a statement from the department Friday. 

The hotel has 109 employees. 

Based on the current minimum wage for those who work in unincorporated areas of the county, businesses with more than 26 employees must pay workers $14.25 an hour and $13.25 an hour for businesses with 25 or fewer employees. 

Workers at the Valencia hotel were underpaid in the range of $0.25 to $0.50 per hour, for a total of $10,488.69, according to Keven Chavez, a public information officer with Consumer and Business Affairs. 

In a corporate statement Monday, company officials said the violation was unintentional: 

“At the time, we believed we were in compliance with the Los Angeles County minimum wage schedule and were not aware that the hotel was considered part of the ‘unincorporated area.’ Once we were informed of the issue, we fully cooperated with the investigation and committed to paying team members the wages due to them. This was an honest mistake and we apologize to the team members of Hilton Garden Inn Valencia.”

“There is simply no excuse for Los Angeles County businesses, particularly those of this size and stature, to fail to pay their employees a correct wage,” said Joseph M. Nicchitta, director of Consumer and Business Affairs, in a prepared statement.

During the investigation, the department’s wage enforcement staff met in person with hotel management to “educate them on the requirements of Los Angeles County’s minimum wage ordinance,” but corrections to their violation were not immediately made, county officials said. 

“After subsequent unsuccessful attempts to communicate with hotel management, who had previously engaged with DCBA (the department) with questions about the wage ordinance, DCBA investigators proceeded to audit the business’s records and discovered the wage violations,” read the department’s statement. 

Consumer and Business Affairs is encouraging workers in unincorporated areas of the county who believe they are not being paid the correct minimum wage to reach out by calling 800-593-8222 or visiting dcba.lacounty.gov/minimum-wage. Business owners can also contact the department for information on compliance. 

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