On February 22, the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) ruled that severance agreements preventing laid-off employees from making publicly disparaging statements about their employer are generally illegal. The NLRB also ruled that severance agreements may not include blanket confidentiality provisions that prevent employees from speaking with anyone else about the terms of the agreement. The ruling overturns a 2020 decision by the then Republican-controlled board that found such agreements were not illegal on their face.
The NLRB is a federal agency tasked with safeguarding employees’ rights and preventing unfair labor practices. The Board’s five members are appointed by the President. During President Biden’s administration, the Democratic-controlled Board’s rulings have largely been worker- and union-friendly.
Wednesday’s ruling is important because it reinstates what until 2020 had been a “longstanding precedent” preventing corporations from asking laid-off employees to waive rights under the National Labor Relations Act in order to receive severance. Under the Board’s recent ruling, employers may no longer withhold severance to silence employees and prevent them from publicly discussing abuses at the workplace, including sexual harassment and assault. Severance agreement clauses preventing employees from discussing workplace misconduct are frequently referred to as “gag” clauses.
Lauren Teukolsky has reviewed severance agreements and fought for workers’ rights for over 20 years. If you believe you have received an illegal severance agreement, click here to get in touch with our office.
Lauren Teukolsky was quoted by Bloomberg Law and Law360 in a pair of articles discussing the class action lawsuit Teukolsky Law filed Wednesday against Hyatt for violating a law meant to protect hotel cleaning staff from being overworked and underpaid. The lawsuit is believed to be the first in the country brought under a “housekeepers bill of rights” law. Ms. Teukolsky represents the plaintiffs along with Zoe Tucker of UNITE HERE Local 11.
“Housekeeper’s bill of rights” laws broadly refer to laws created specifically to protect hotel cleaning staff from abuses at the workplace, including but not limited to wage theft and sexual harassment. The lawsuit filed by Ms. Teukolsky alleges that Hyatt violated the Long Beach Hotel Working Conditions Ordinance when it failed to pay hotel room attendants the required double wages they were owed for cleaning more than 4,000 square feet in a single day, among other violations.
Laws similar to Long Beach’s have been passed in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Seattle, in what has become a national trend of local municipalities stepping in to protect workers when their states and the federal government fail to.
Bloomberg Law’s article reads:
“’The voters of Long Beach passed a hotel workload ordinance to guarantee hardworking room attendants a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work,’ Teukolsky said in a statement. ‘As we say in the lawsuit, Hyatt has been flouting the law since the day it was passed.’”
In the Law360 article, Ms. Teukolsky states the following :
"Hotels are on notice that they can't cheat workers out of their wages with impunity.”
To read the Bloomberg Law article in its entirety, click here. To read the Law360 article in its entirety, click here.
If you believe that you have not been paid proper wages, click here to get in touch with our office.
Teukolsky Law Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Hyatt Under Local WORKLOAD ORDINANCE, The First Of Its Kind in the CountRy
Teukolsky Law filed a class action lawsuit today against the Hyatt Regency Long Beach alleging that Hyatt violated the Long Beach Hotel Working Conditions Initiative (“Initiative”), a measure passed by voters in 2018 to provide protections to hotel workers. A number of cities have passed similar hotel worker ordinances, including Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Seattle, and Oakland, among others. This is the first lawsuit in the country brought under one of these “Housekeepers’ Bill of Rights” laws. Lauren Teukolsky represents the plaintiffs along with Zoe Tucker of UNITE HERE Local 11.
The Initiative protects hotel employees against the risk of sexual assault by requiring hotels to provide them with panic buttons, and to post notices on guestroom doors stating that hotel workers may not be subjected to threatening behavior. It also has a “Humane Workload” provision that guarantees room attendants double pay on days when their workload exceeds proscribed limits.
The lawsuit alleges that Hyatt failed to post the required notices, and seeks injunctive relief requiring Hyatt to comply with the Initiative. The lawsuit further alleges that Hyatt failed to pay room attendants double when they cleaned more square footage than permitted by the Initiative. The lawsuit alleges that managers pressured housekeepers to work through their rest breaks to finish cleaning all of their assigned rooms as quickly as possible in violation of California law.
The lawsuit is part of a larger trend of local governments passing laws that are more protective of workers than states or the federal government. Los Angeles and several other cities have adopted Living Wage Ordinances, minimum wage ordinances, and sick pay ordinances that are far more protective of workers than state or federal legislation. Local ordinances to protect hotel workers from grueling workloads are just the latest example of efforts by cities to improve the working conditions of workers in specific industries. The trend can also be seen in fair scheduling ordinances, with Los Angeles recently passing the first such ordinance for retail workers. Cities such as Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle have also passed various fair scheduling laws of their own.
If you believe that you have not been paid proper wages, contact Teukolsky Law today for a free consultation.
Lauren Teukolsky is the founder and owner of Teukolsky Law, A Professional Corporation.