An embattled Southern California luxury resort was fined $3.3 million by the state for not hiring back 53 employees laid off during the pandemic

An embattled Southern California luxury resort was fined $3.3 million by the state for not hiring back 53 employees laid off during the pandemic
This lovely scene is not a photo of the Terranea Resort.Kara Williams
  • Terranea Resort is a luxury waterfront hotel and spa near Los Angeles.
  • California's labor commissioner fined the resort for not offering jobs back to workers laid off during the pandemic.

California's Labor Commissioner's Office has fined a luxury resort near Los Angeles for not offering jobs back to workers laid off during the pandemic once they reopened for business.

The fine totals $3.3 million and relates to 53 workers at Terranea Resort, according to a statement released by the commission on Thursday. The money would be dispersed among the workers, however, the resort has 15 days to appeal the result.

"These workers invested years of service at Terranea and through no fault of their own lost their jobs due to the pandemic," Labor Commissioner Lilia García-Brower said in the release.

"The law makes it clear that workers in the hospitality and services industries must be prioritized to return to the same or similar positions when their former employer reopens for business," García-Brower added.

Terranea Resort is on a 102-acre plot of land and has 582 guestrooms and suites, according to the resort's website. Rapper Ne-Yo and Crystal Renay Smith got married there in 2016, according to InStyle.


The labor commission's citation is only the latest in a series of labor disputes for the luxury waterfront locale, according to a 2019 Daily Beast feature.

In 2011, the resort settled a class-action suit that claimed the spa didn't pay overtime and minimum wages for $1.1 million.

In 2019, the resort settled a class action over similar issues for $2.1 million. That same year, an federal administrative law judge ordered the resort to rehire a chef named Freddy Lovato, who the company said was fired for a gluten-free macaroni and cheese incident -- and for failing to throw away wings as instructed.

In June 2021, an appeals court upheld a National Labor Relations Board finding that the resort had fired him for vocally organizing a union and talking about it to the media, per The Daily Breeze.

The resort also was sued for sexual harassment by Sandra Pezqueda in 2017 (who settled for $250,000 in 2018) and Silvia Jasmin Sanchez in 2018. As Pezqueda's suit was the same year as revelations about Harvey Weinstein emerged, her case became a part of the #MeToo movement, and she was featured in Time magazine's Person of the Year as one of "The Silence Breakers." Jane Fonda, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and the state Democratic party endorsed a boycott of the resort.


The latest fines the resort faces stem from a "Right to Recall" law that went into effect April 2021 that requires employers to offer jobs back to workers laid off because of the pandemic through 2024. It relates to security, retail, and maintenance workers, as well as those who worked at places like private clubs and hotels with 50-plus guest rooms.

A spokesperson for Terranea emailed the following statement on Thursday:

We strongly disagree with the Labor Commissioner's citation, which is not a finding of fact. We are exploring all of our legal options.

The present dispute has nothing to do with Terranea's good-faith, seniority-based approach to recalling its associates, and everything to do with ambiguous and poorly-defined language in SB93. In fact, of the 52 employees referenced in the citation, only four have not been recalled. The remainder are either currently working at the resort or were offered a job.

We demonstrate our care and concern for our associates through our deeds, not just words. That more than 85 percent of our pre-pandemic associates returned to Terranea speaks volumes about our positive, employee-centric culture.