Ty Warner, owner of Santa Barbara’s Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore, among many others, was the subject of a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of 425 hotel employees who, until March 20, 2020, worked in the Santa Barbara’s iconic Biltmore. As of that date, all hotel employees were placed on indefinite leave due to COVID, although hotel managers reportedly informed Warner that the hotel was safe to operate again on May 1, 2020.
As furloughed employees — not working, but not laid off either — their lawyers, Bruce Anticouni and Nicole Ricotta, argued that they were effectively denied $6 million in compensation that was contractually theirs. owed as terminated employees through no fault of their own. The lawsuit argues that Warner, which contracted with the Four Seasons to run the hotel, not the hotel chain, was responsible for steadfastly refusing to turn on the lights.
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The two main plaintiffs named in the lawsuit – Andreza Holt and Christopher Martinez – had worked for the Biltmore for 22 years. Had Warner followed the hotel’s “no-fault severance pay” clause, according to the pleading, they would have been eligible for $26,644 and $22,392, respectively. The hotel’s 425 former employees, according to an official statement from Anticouni and Ricotta, had to go without millions of dollars in salaries and benefits: “A large majority have not found comparable employment, leading to expulsions , mortgage foreclosures, unpaid bills, inability to obtain health insurance and severe emotional damage.A former employee, according to lawyers, committed suicide.
Despite years of protests from former hotel employees and private negotiations with hotel and Warner representatives, no agreement was reached. Neither Warner nor the Four Seasons company responded to requests for comment from the Independent by deadline.
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