Monday, January 9, 2012

Downtown Indy Hotel Workers Sue For Unpaid Wages

First the downtown Hoteliers hid behind the skirts and aprons of Indy's hotel workers in order to fight for the right of the Capital Improvement Board (CIB) to get even more tax money.  No matter that the CIB gives millions of dollars every year to the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association (ICVA).  By all rights the ICVA should be funded entirely by those downtown businesses that benefit from the organization, not the taxpayers.  The ICVA, among other things, pays to discount hotel rooms for convention-goers.

Then the downtown Hoteliers outsourced their maid services.

Now we learn that the outsourcing service, Hospitality Staffing Solutions (HSS), is being sued by hotel workers who claim they have not been paid for all of the hours they actually worked.

Here is the text of the press release written by Unite Here's Sarah Lyons:
WHO: Thousands work in hotels downtown, more and more through subcontracting agencies at minimum wage with few or no benefits. Now, a number of hotel workers are coming forward to blow the whistle on mistreatment and wage and hour violations they experienced while working at area hotels through the subcontractor, Hospitality Staffing Solutions, (HSS). On Monday, these hotel workers will be filing a lawsuit in a federal court against Hospitality Staffing Solutions (HSS) and ten major hotels for wage and hour violations.  
This landmark lawsuit is the broadest wage and hour case in the history of the Indianapolis hospitality industry. If the lawsuit is certified as a collective action, eligible employees as a group could be entitled to as much as ten million dollars in back pay. Workers in the lawsuit allege that HSS and area hotels regularly fail to pay them for all the hours they work and force them to work off the clock and without breaks.
Indianapolis city government has invested over one billion dollars of taxpayer money in the downtown hospitality industry with the hopes of rebuilding the area economy. Sadly, Indianapolis hotel workers are some of the lowest paid in the nation. Hotel workers here start at $7.25 per hour and are offered few or no benefits. Now, some hotels that the city has chosen to subsidize are being accused of illegal activity--of not even paying their employees the minimum wage. During the Super Bowl, room rates in downtown hotels are expected to cost over $1000 per night. Hotels are slated to make millions of dollars each during the week of the Super Bowl alone.
When will Indianapolis turn its focus toward the people who live and work here?  Not the corporations that, through second hand means, accept tax dollars and then send their profits elsewhere.  I've said it before and I'll say it again...  Indianapolis should be as great a place to live as it is to visit.

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