Maribel Duarte, a former housekeeper at the Embassy Suites Irvine hotel has been awarded $70,000 as part of a workers compensation settlement the hotel agreed to.
Duarte worked at the hotel for 16 years, and the settlement was for injuries sustained during work in 2009 and 2010. As the extended period indicates, the injuries sustained to her arms, legs and neck were due to repetitive motion related to cleaning hotel rooms.
As part of the settlement, the hotel also paid the state $6,100 for Duarte's medial bills, which totaled above $25,000. The hotel in question has of late been embroiled in a lot of workers' compensation claims and wrongful termination accusations.
They had to cough up $99,000 in back pay because they denied workers 10 minute breaks. Under California state law, employers have to offer 10-min breaks and one 30-min break for every eight hour shift. The $99,000 ruling was preceded by another one wherein the hotel had to pay $36,000 to make up for denying rest breaks to seven workers.
This wave of lawsuits against hotel owners is partially because some of them are still holding out against unionization. As a result, the unions are advising workers at hotels like the Embassy Suites Irvine to fight for their rights. It's the same fight all over the country, where workers compensation and unionization demands are being met with retaliatory terminations on trumped up charges. One worker at the aforementioned hotel was fired for taking an apple from the trash.
At this stage, the hotels are losing badly with regard to the workers' compensation claims because there are no two ways about it – either they have to pay the workers properly and give them the mandated breaks, or they have regulatory bodies and lawsuits breathing down their necks.
There's a marked difference between unionized and non-unionized hotels, with the former offering higher wages and better working conditions. But it is a hard fight and many workers have lost their jobs asking for their rights.