Los Angeles Grants Union-Style Recall Rights to Some Workers

May 13, 2020Alerts

In response to widespread layoffs and furloughs resulting from the outbreak of COVID-19, the City of Los Angeles has enacted a pair of laws that effectively grant union-style recall and retention rights to workers in some of the most heavily impacted industries.

Signed into law by Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Right of Recall Ordinance and the Worker Retention Ordinance, apply only to the following categories of employers:

Hotels and their Restaurants
Owners, operators or managers of hotels with either 50 or more guest rooms or whose 2019 gross revenue exceeds $5 million, as well as the owners, operators, managers, or lessees of any restaurant physically located at the covered hotel

Event centers
Owners, operators, or managers of event centers, defined as publicly or privately-owned structures in the City of Los Angeles of more than 50,000 square feet or with a seating capacity of at least 1,000 seats used for public performances, sporting events, business meetings, or similar events (e.g., concert halls, stadiums, sports arenas, racetracks, coliseums, and convention centers)

Commercial Properties
Owners, operators, managers, or lessees, including contractors, subcontractors or sublessees, of a non-residential commercial property in the City of Los Angeles that employs 25 or more janitorial, maintenance, or security service workers. Only the janitorial, maintenance and security service workers working for the commercial property employer are covered by the ordinances.

Airport Services
Any business or employer (excluding airlines) that provides any service at the City of Los Angeles Department of Airports and each airport it operates in the City, or provides any service to any business or employer servicing these airports.

Together, these ordinances require employers to provide union-style rights to non-union workers by mandating the rehire of employees laid off due to the coronavirus pandemic before hiring any new employees, and to provide retention guidelines in the event of a sale of the business.

The Right of Recall Ordinance

Beginning on June 14, 2020, employers in the above-specified industries must make a written offer of employment (by mail, email and text message) to non-managerial workers, laid off on or after March 4, 2020, due to COVID-19, for any position that is or becomes available for which the worker is qualified. To be eligible for recall, a laid off individual must have either: (a) held the same or similar position at the same employment site at the time of the COVID-related layoff; or (b) be qualified or capable of being qualified for the position by receiving the same training that a completely new hire would receive for the position.

If two or more laid off workers are eligible for recall for the same open position, employers in the above-specified industries must give priority based on seniority to the worker with the greatest length of service for the employer (i.e., holding the same or similar position at the same employment site).

Workers offered recall to employment must be afforded five days to accept or reject the offer of employment.

The Citywide Worker Retention Ordinance

Employers in the aforementioned industries must provide seniority preferences to workers in the event of a change in business ownership or control within two years of the City of Los Angeles’s COVID-19 emergency declarations. The new business owners must hire the previous business' workers, according to seniority, for at least six months after the new business opens to the public, and must retain each rehired worker for at least 90 days, after which, the employer must conduct written performance evaluations of each worker to in order to consider them for permanent employment.

A “worker” is defined as one who worked at least six months for the previous business employer on or after March 1, 2020, and prior to the change in ownership.

Both the Right to Recall Ordinance and the Citywide Worker Retention Ordinance become effective on June 14, 2020. Laid-off workers who allege violations under these ordinances must provide their employer written notice outlining their specific claims, as well as a 15-day period to cure and respond to the alleged violations. After this period, the worker can bring an action against the employer in state court for hiring and reinstatement rights, actual damages, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees.