On October 1, 2014 the Los Angeles City Council voted again to require large hotels to pay workers a minimum wage of $15.37, exclusive of gratuities, bonuses, or service charge distributions after first passing the bill 12-3 on September 24, 2014. (A second vote was required under Los Angeles City Council rules because the first vote was not unanimous.) Assuming Mayor Garcetti signs the bill, which he has reportedly already promised to do, the bill will go into effect on July 1, 2015, applying first to hotel employees at hotels with 300 or more guest rooms and then, on July 1, 2016, expanding its reach to hotel employees employed by hotels with 150 or more guest rooms.
The law contains both hardship and collective bargaining agreement exemptions. Employees who seek to enforce the law can bring an action in the Superior Court for the State of California for back pay and potentially reinstatement. Treble damages are available for employees who can show that the employer’s violation was willful. Employees who are the prevailing party in an action under the law are entitled to their attorney’s fees and costs.
This wage hike comes after Mayor Garcetti’s Labor Day announcement of his plan to gradually raise Los Angeles’ minimum wage to $13.25 by 2017 and was soon followed by a City Council motion for a draft ordinance that would not only support the Mayor’s plan, but also investigate how to raise the City’s minimum wage to $15.25 by 2019. And Los Angeles is not alone. In the upcoming November election, voters in San Francisco will consider a plan to gradually raise its minimum wage to $15 by 2018 while voters in Oakland will consider a raise to $12.25 and Eureka voters will consider a raise to $12 for businesses with 25 or more employees. Moreover, Berkeley, Richmond, and San Diego all passed plans to increase their minimum wage earlier this year.