California Labor Commissioner pays workers whose rights were violated

Cautionary tale reminds employers to respect workers' right to recall

California Labor Commissioner pays workers whose rights were violated

The California Labor Commissioner Office has recently paid $1.52 million to 57 workers at Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes, CA who had their labor rights violated, the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) said in a news release.

HRD previously reported on the resort being cited for failing to rehire dozens of workers laid off during the pandemic. Following the case, what does the Right to Recall law mean in terms of an employer’s obligations and duties? 

Why the million-dollar penalty?

According to the DIR, some of the workers of the Terranea Resort were not timely offered jobs, while others did not receive any job offers once the resort re-opened as required by the Right to Recall law.

“The $1.52 million payment comes from a settlement reached in May with Terranea Resort after it was cited on March 2, 2022 for failing to comply with the law after the resort re-opened for business in 2021,” the DIR said.

Read more: Understanding WFH employees’ pain points

The workers compensated include “banquet housepersons, banquet servers, banquet captains, bartenders, and junior sous chefs.”

What are ‘recall rights’?

Based on the DIR, the Labor Code Sec. 20810.8 affords recall rights for all employees in the hospitality industry and in building services who were laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Within five days of a job opening, an employer must offer the available position(s) to laid-off employees who held the same or similar position before the lay-off,” the DIR said. “An employee is allowed five business days to accept an offer, if the employee wants to be rehired.”

The government further said that an employer has the right to make a single offer to the employee with the most seniority. Similarly, it noted that the employer could also make multiple offers to a group of employees so long as they are eligible for the position.

“If multiple laid-off employees accept the same offer, the job(s) must be given to the employee(s) with greatest seniority (based on hire date),” the DIR said.

“If no laid-off employee(s) accepts the job offer(s), the employer may hire anyone else including a new employee to fill the position,” it added.

The DIR emphasized that employers must base seniority on the total length of service and not on job seniority.

“'Length of service' means the total of all periods of time during which an employee has been in active service with the employer, based on the employee's date of hire, including periods of time when the employee was on leave or on vacation," it said.

The government enacted the Right to Recall law on April 16, 2021, and it will remain effective until December 31, 2024.

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