Investigation into SoCal hotels allegedly using migrant workers to replace striking employees

Jory Rand Image
Tuesday, October 24, 2023
Investigation into hotels allegedly using migrant workers amid strike
EMBED <>More Videos

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office has launched a new investigation into the working conditions at several hotels where workers are on strike.

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KABC) -- The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office has launched an investigation into the working conditions at several hotels where workers are on strike.

The investigation was sparked by claims that migrant workers are being underpaid off the books, and that children may also be part of the workforce being used to replace those striking workers.

District Attorney George Gascón on Monday made an appearance outside Le Meridien Delfina in Santa Monica to announce the investigation into the hotel and several others.

"We want to make sure that those who are vulnerable are being provided the support that the laws of this country provides," he said.

Gascón spoke alongside striking workers from Unite Here Local 11, who have been holding intermittent strikes at L.A. area hotels for months.

"Employers have sunk to a new low, bringing in workers who are refugees to this country to attempt to break our strike. But we aren't going to let that happen," said the union's Juan Munoz-Guevara.

The union presented Sebastian, a Venezuelan who says he was hired to work at Le Meridien but was forced to work without breaks, unable to eat for hours and doing the work of up to four people. He also says he was given a check without a pay stub, unaware of how much work he was being paid for.

"It's outrageous that Santa Monica hotels may have resorted to exploiting the desperation of recent immigrants," said state Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, (D) Los Angeles. "I say to these hotels: You will not succeed in pitting community against community. We stand with each other, regardless of your status."

Eyewitness News reached out to the hotel but has not received a response.

Gascón said his office will be working with the state Labor Department to investigate potential wage theft, shady bookkeeping and violations of child labor laws.