Last updated: 08:03 PM ET, Sat October 03 2015

Lawsuit Filed Against Hyatt Over Alleged Unpaid Wages and Gratuities

Impacting Travel | Michael Isenbek | October 03, 2015

Lawsuit Filed Against Hyatt Over Alleged Unpaid Wages and Gratuities

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Accused of violating a raft of federal and state laws related to how employees have been paid in Pennsylvania, Hyatt Hotels Corporation has been hit with a class and collective action lawsuit on behalf of current and former workers, according to a recent news release.

Plaintiff Nancy Livi of Philadelphia is a 30-year banquet server at the Hyatt at the Bellevue, a luxury hotel housed in a skyscraper at the center of the City of Brotherly Love.

Livi made requests for “clarifications regarding the hotel's pay practices, (but) the Bellevue withheld such information,” the release asserts. 

The lawsuit states that Hyatt hotels in Pennsylvania, “systematically failed to pay overtime wages and gratuities to their banquet servers by intentionally retaining a portion of a mandatory ‘gratuity fee’ or ‘service charge,’” per the release.

This additional charge, included on banquet event customer contracts, is customarily 21 percent, the release says. And Pennsylvania and Philadelphia laws dictate that such fees should go to employees.

Hyatt is also being accused of violating U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Internal Revenue, the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act and the Philadelphia Administrative Code regulations by not counting gratuities as part of the hourly wage in calculating overtime, resulting in less than the required time-and-a-half pay for overtime.

And this legal action isn’t being limited to Pennsylvania Hyatts. Sheller, P.C. and Donovan Axler, LLC, the two firms representing the workers, are actively seeking other banquet servers who may have been affected by the alleged pay practices — Sheller’s website cites the total Hyatt employee number at 97,000 across 50 countries.

"Our concern is for Ms. Livi and everyone who works as a banquet server to be protected from unlawful hotel practices that cause them significant financial harm," says Marc Goldich, attorney at Sheller, P.C. who represents the plaintiff and the banquet staff punitive class.


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