Court Upholds LAX-Area Hotel Wage Ordinance

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – A California appeals court has upheld a city ordinance requiring hotels near the Los Angeles International Airport to pay their employees a “living wage.”




     The ruling reverses a lower court’s decision in May to strike down the ordinance, which requires LAX-area hotels to pay workers with health benefits at least $9.39 an hour or pay $10.64 an hour to those without benefits. 
     A group of hotel operators and individual taxpayers claimed the ordinance unfairly singled out a small number of hotels for “special minimum wage requirements,” while the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce expressed concern that similar requirements would be forced on other businesses.
     As a result, the city council repealed the wage ordinance in January 2007 and replaced it with the “Airport Hospitality Enhancement Zone Ordinance,” the provisions of which “directly address the objections to the wage ordinance,” the court ruled.
     The new ordinance commits the city to making several improvements to an area dubbed the “hospitality enhancement zone” and includes $1 million for road work, $50,000 toward figuring out how to attract new businesses, and an extensive training program for hotel and restaurant workers.
     Despite its similarity to the wage ordinance, the zone ordinance will provide “guaranteed tangible economic benefits to the hotels that mitigate the financial burden of the wage requirements, while limiting imposition of such requirements in other areas of the city,” Justice Manella wrote. See ruling.

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