SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office announced on Monday, November 27 that they obtained the first successful prosecution of a business for violating the city’s Minimum Wage Ordinance.
The owner of a JW Marriott LA Boutique Gift Shop (“LA Boutique”), a local hotel-based luxury retail shop, has been found guilty of failing to pay multiple employees the legally-mandated Santa Monica minimum wage and for unfairly terminating an employee when she attempted to exercise her rights. According to a press release from Santa Monica Public Information Officer, Constance Farrell, a total of four employees were underpaid by the gift shop.
The case was referred to the City Attorney’s Office after the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer & Business Affairs received multiple complaints of LA Boutique’s infractions from the business’ staff. Santa Monica currently stipulates that as of July 1, 2017, the minimum wage for employees of hotels and businesses operating on hotel property is to be set at $15.66 an hour. No employee of LA Boutique was being paid the mandated minimum wage prior to the store owner’s conviction.
The owner pled no contest to three misdemeanor counts of failing to pay employees the city of Santa Monica the minimum wage, as well as one misdemeanor count of unlawful retaliation against an employee. Under the plea agreement, the owner will face 36 months of probation and will be responsible for paying roughly $11,000 in back wages to affected employees and $3,000 to the city for investigative costs. The owner was sentenced to 150 hours of community service.
In an email to Canyon News, Farrell indicated: “It is our collective hope that this information will further educate the public regarding the city’s minimum wage laws, which will lead to greater compliance.”