A Santa Barbara law firm announced Monday it is now representing 150 employees of Montecito’s Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore who are demanding severance pay as the luxury resort remains closed for an extensive renovation that corporate executives say could last through 2022.
The employees have stopped short of suing the company ― their contract prohibits class-action lawsuits ― but Anticouni & Associates said in a press statement the firm is pressing for mediation and, if unsuccessful, arbitration, for each person it represents. “We contend the furlough caused by the pandemic became a layoff when corporate Four Seasons decided to prevent employees from returning to work while it remodels the hotel,” the statement read.
The Biltmore originally shut its doors in March amid the COVID pandemic and placed all 450 of its employees, some of whom have been with the hotel for decades, on furlough. But the temporary closure turned into an extended one when the hotel announced a few months later it was overhauling the property and would no longer pay employees’ health insurance.
The amount of severance allegedly owed is substantial. Per their contract, a person who has worked for the hotel for 10 years with an average hourly rate of $25 per hour is entitled to $16,000, the firm said. An employee who has worked for 20 years with an average annual salary of $75,000 would be entitled to $37,500.
Attempts to reach Four Seasons corporate representatives for comment have not been successful.
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