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Hospitality Workers/ Hotel Employees Suffer More Unpaid Wage Violations Than Any Other Industry

Employees of hotels, motels, and resorts are more likely to be cheated out of their wages than any other worker nationwide. According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the hospitality industry has had the highest number of investigations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) since 1985. Over 29,400 accommodation providers have been investigated in the past thirty years, amounting to roughly $280 million in fines and back wages—with even more employers hit with private class action wage lawsuits.

Class Action Lawsuits for California Hotel, Motel, and Resort Workers

If you work in a California hotel, motel or resort and you aren't getting all the wages you are owed under the law, then you need to look into a Class Action lawsuit to get your wages paid to you. 

Typical Violations in Hospitality Wage and Hour Lawsuits

From small boutique inns to sprawling hotel chains, owners in the hotel and motel industry can find small ways to cheat their workers out of fair wages. In most cases, employees will have small amounts of money deducted from their paychecks each pay period that can add up to thousands of dollars in losses per year. These wage and hour violations can affect workers in a service-specific area (such as waiters, dishwashers, and bussers) or be applied to all workers across several locations under the same employer.

Common ways that California hotel, motel and hospitality workers are not paid all the wages they are owed

Common wage theft cases filed by California hospitality employees involve claims of:

  • Not getting paid for all time worked: We commonly see workers not getting paid for all time worked.  That is, for all time that workers are under the control of the employer. This happens a variety of ways. For example, in one of our recent cases, many of the employees were required to keep their radios on during meal breaks and rest breaks.  Which meant they were under the control of the hotel and they weren't getting paid for all time worked. 
  • Meal break violations:  This is based upon the Brinker vs. Superior Court - California Supreme Court case. We know this case very well because we represented the workers in the the Brinker case. When you don't get a legally compliant meal break under California law, you are entitled to an hour's pay. 
  • Rest break violations:  This is based upon both the Brinker California Supreme Court case and the Augustus vs. ABM California Supreme Court case. The California Supreme Court agreed with our brief in the Augustus case. In that sense, we wrote the winning brief in the Augustus case. 
    When you don't get a legally compliant rest break under California law, you are entitled to an hour's pay.
  • Overtime violations. If an employee works in multiple locations or picks up shifts at a neighboring property, employers are still required to pay for overtime hours worked. Although employers are required to pay employees time-and-a-half for any hours worked over 40 hours per week, many employers will pay one “fixed” salary per employee without accounting for overtime—a highly illegal practice.
  • Under-the-table payments. Some employers will take on additional employees during times of high demand, but will pay these employees in cash—and keep them off the record books—failing to pay state and federal taxes.
  • Work time violations. Many employees are asked to work through their required meal and rest periods without compensation, while minor-aged employees may work longer shifts or outside of the hours permissible by law.
  • Third-party management. Labor violations in hotels, spas, and resorts are complicated by the fact that their day-to-day business operations are usually run by third-party management companies. The owner of the property may rely on the management company to provide permanent and temporary staff (such as front desk staff, concierge services, and housekeepers) and manage their timecards over multiple property locations, making pay and overtime calculations more difficult.
  • Lack of posting and training. Many positions in the hospitality industry may be filled by temporary workers, students, or employees who are new to the workforce who do not know their rights under state and federal wage laws.
  • Employee misclassification. Workers are often misclassified as independent contractors instead of employees, allowing employers to neglect to pay them overtime, paid time off, and other benefits.
  • Minimum wage violations. Unfair pay deductions, such as forcing employees to pay for their own uniforms, share tips, or perform unpaid work, can reduce an employee’s hourly wages below the state or federal minimum wage.
  • Inaccurate pay statements. Employers in the state of California are required to issue regular and accurate pay stubs with each employee’s paycheck, and can be subject to fines for inaccurate record keeping. These are called pay stub violations or paycheck violations. 
  • More examples of failing to pay for all hours worked. Workers are often asked to perform work-related tasks off the clock, such as reporting an hour before the start of their shifts, donning and doffing uniforms, or preparing housekeeping carts for the next shift after punching out.
  • Illegal tipping practices. Employers are required to adhere to special labor laws when calculating the wages of tipped employees, including apportioning tips only to those who qualify, avoiding tip pooling practices, and considering wage income when calculating overtime pay.
  • Abuse of foreign or minority workers. Employers may hire immigrants for low-skilled jobs because they may accept a lower rate of pay and are unlikely to report labor violations due to language barriers or unclear immigration status.

If you and your fellow employees have been cheated out of your wages, you may be eligible to form a class action to recover lost pay, interest, and penalties. 

Happy clients with their settlement checks
It feels really good when you get your check for unpaid wages owed to you!

Why the Brinker California Supreme Court case is so important to you 

If you're a resort worker, hotel worker or motel worker in California, then you should know about the Brinker California Supreme Court case. This is probably the most important case for your wage rights under California law.  I know  the Brinker case very well, because I represented the workers in the Brinker case. 

Under the Brinker case, an employer satisfies its obligation to provide meal breaks only your employer:


1.       Relieves its employees of all duty,

2.       Relinquishes control over their activities and

3.       Permits them a reasonable opportunity to take an uninterrupted 30‑minute break, and

4.       Does not impede or discourage them from doing so.  Or provide an incentive to forego.



What we regularly see for California hotel and motel workers is that employers simply don't provide legally compliant meal breaks.


When you don't get a legally compliant meal break under California law, you are entitled to an hour's pay. 


The Augustus California Supreme Court case 

I wrote the winning amicus brief in the Augustus Supreme Court case. Because of my involvement with the cases, I have some "insider takes" on the Augustus case.


First, an employers' responsibilities for rest breaks are the same for meal and rest periods. The Supreme Court came right out and said it in the Augustus decision.


Second, the Augustus court made it very clear that employees must not only be relieved of all work duties, but also the employer must also relinquish all control over the employees time. Thus, employees can not be required to be on-call during rest breaks.


Third, the most important part of a rest period is allowing employees to actually rest. While this may be obvious to you, the California Supreme Court came right out and said it in the Augustus case. 


Fourth, you must get 10 minutes to rest at a suitable resting facility. If part of your 10 minutes is spent walking to and or from a break room, then you didn't get a legally compliant rest break. 

When you don't get a legally compliant rest break under California law, you are entitled to an hour's pay. 


What should I do? 

I suggest that you should get a free, no obligation unpaid wages analysis. 

Call us at 619-304-1000  - If you call after regular business hours, when you leave a message, be sure to repeat your name and telephone number twice, so we get it correctly. And be sure to indicate whether it's okay if we respond by text.

Text us at 858-281-8008 - Be sure and put "new wage case" in your text. 

Or leave us a message on this web page

Disclaimer: Please understand these discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. This testimonial, endorsement and/or discussion does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter, your particular case/ situation and/or this particular case/ situation.

William Turley
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“When I seek out professional advice, I don’t want B.S., I want it straight up. I figure you do also.”