Teukolsky Law Files NEW Lawsuit UNDER AB 51 CHALLENGING EMPLOYER'S REQUIREMENT THAT EMPLOYEE WAIVE HER ACCESS TO COURTS AS A CONDITION OF EMPLOYMENT
On Friday, April 8, Teukolsky Law filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of April Blackwell, a 37-year-old Black woman, against The Pendry West Hollywood, a luxury hotel owned by Montage International on the iconic Sunset Strip. The lawsuit is the first of its kind, alleging that the Pendry terminated Ms. Blackwell because she said she did not want to sign a mandatory arbitration agreement giving up her ability to sue the Pendry for race discrimination and similar claims in a court of law.
Forcing job applicants and employees to sign forced arbitration agreements was recently made illegal in California by Assembly Bill 51 (AB 51). Under forced arbitration agreements, all claims made by workers—regardless of their severity—must be resolved under private arbitration, a process that overwhelmingly favors employers, disproportionately harms historically marginalized communities, and shields corporations from public scrutiny and accountability. As a condition of employment, The Pendry required Ms. Blackwell to give up her right to access the courts, her right to a jury trial, her right to appeal an erroneous decision, and her right to conduct full discovery to prosecute her claims. When she refused to give up her rights, the Pendry fired her after just one day of work.
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 51 into law in late 2019 after widespread public outrage over arbitration agreements that hid allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and other prominent figures. The fate of AB 51 is currently in limbo. In 2021, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld AB 51 in Chamber of Commerce of United States v. Bonta, 13 F.4th 766, 771 (9th Cir. 2021) (“Bonta”). However, the Ninth Circuit is deferring a vote on whether to rehear Bonta until after the United States Supreme Court issues a ruling in another arbitration case argued in late March 2022.
Still, even if AB 51 is ultimately struck down, Ms. Blackwell’s claims against the Pendry will survive because California law protects employees who are terminated for expressing opposition to conduct they reasonably believe is unlawful, which is exactly what Ms. Blackwell did.
To view the complaint, click here.
Hollywood Reporter Article on Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s CONTROVERSIAL Oscar Party AT CHATEAU MARMONT Highlights TWO Teukolsky Law Cases
The Hollywood Reporter published an article on March 22, 2022 discussing the criticism that Beyoncé and Jay-Z have drawn for deciding to hold their annual Oscars after-party at the Chateau Marmont, despite mounting allegations that the Chateau has engaged in racist practices to the detriment of its Black employees and customers. The party, known as the “Gold Party,” has long been one of the most coveted invites of Oscars night and was routinely thrown at the Chateau Marmont prior to the pandemic.
This year, Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s plans to host their first Gold Party since the pandemic at the Chateau has drawn criticism because of an ongoing boycott of Chateau Marmont, led by the local hotel workers’ Union, UNITE HERE Local 11. The boycott, which has support from celebrities such as Spike Lee and Issa Rae, was prompted in part by allegations in two lawsuits filed by Teukolsky Law in 2021.
The first lawsuit was filed on behalf of former Chateau events server Thomasina Gross (pictured above), a Black woman, and charges the Chateau with race discrimination, sex harassment, and retaliation. The second lawsuit was filed on behalf of former Chateau night auditor April Blackwell, also a Black woman, and involves allegations about repeated racist behavior from guests that went unchecked by her superiors at the Chateau. Both lawsuits were previously covered in reports by The Hollywood Reporter and the Los Angeles Times.
If you believe you have been experienced race discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, or other unlawful workplace practices, contact Teukolsky Law today for a free consultation.
Deadline and the Hollywood Reporter reported on August 23 that Paramount+’s miniseries about the making of The Godfather, The Offer, has canceled filming at the Chateau Marmont after learning about the Chateau’s labor dispute with Unite Here Local 11.
The production, which stars prominent actors including Miles Teller and Colin Hanks, was scheduled to film at the Chateau between August 25 and 27. The production is the second this year to pull out of planned business with the hotel. Former workers at the hotel launched the boycott in February along with the union, calling on the hotel to rehire workers in accordance with LA’s recall ordinance. Teukolsky Law has filed two lawsuits against Chateau Marmont this year on behalf of former employees alleging sexual harassment and racial discrimination.
Union co-president Kurt Petersen wrote in a statement, “We applaud Paramount Plus’s decision to honor the boycott of the Chateau Marmont. We thank all the Hollywood unions — SAG AFTRA, IATSE, Teamsters, WGA and DGA — for supporting these courageous workers who have spoken out for dignity and respect.”
Lauren Teukolsky is the founder and owner of Teukolsky Law, A Professional Corporation.