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Hotel Workers Settle in Wage-and-Hour Lawsuit

In Indianapolis, hotel workers recently entered into a settlement
in a lawsuit against national staffing company Hospitality Staffing Solutions
(HSS). The lawsuit alleged the workers hadn’t been fully paid for housekeeping
services they performed at nine area hotels.

The workers’ claims ranged from several hundred to several
thousand dollars
. The company’s attorney said that while the claims “could not
be verified,” HSS chose to settle to resolve the complaints expeditiously (i.e.
without the expense of going to court and potentially losing). The workers
alleged a number of violations by the company, including telling workers to
work off the clock, requiring them to clean a certain number of rooms even if
the work extended into break hours, and not paying overtime for work that
extended beyond normal hours. All workers were Latino and did not speak
English.

One of the plaintiffs claimed that since the lawsuit was filed,
some hotels in the area have given raises and better benefits to their
housekeeping staff. A local hospitality union, Unite Here, assisted the workers
by providing interpretive services and transportation. The union had been
trying unsuccessfully to organize workers at three large Indianapolis hotels
(the Hyatt, Westin, and Sheraton); although no hotels are unionized, food
service workers at Indianapolis International Airport are now working under a
union contract negotiated by Unite Here.

The general manager of the Marriott
International in downtown Indianapolis stated that the company had given 7%
raises to its housekeeping staff, and had stopped working with HSS. Doesn’t
seem like a coincidence, even though Marriott said HSS had simply become too
difficult to work with. Nothing like a lucrative lawsuit to make a company
realize behaving illegally might not be best course of action.