On April 26, Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes agreed to pay a $2.1 million dollar fund to nearly 400 current and former Terranea employees and their lawyers. This is a mutually agreed upon settlement for a 2017 LA County Superior Court lawsuit filing in which hotel workers accused Terranea of violating California labor laws.
The lawsuit detailed several specific allegations. The first was that Terranea required employees to show up to a distant parking lot 30 minutes prior to a work shift in order to take a company shuttle to work without compensating them for this time. The suit also claimed that Terranea did not offer proper meal and rest breaks, as required by California law. And finally, Terranea allegedly required certain employees to start 15 minutes before shifts began to dress in uniform, without compensating them for this time.
The Los Angeles Times reported the representing attorneys will receive approximately $716,000 in legal fees, while plaintiffs will receive individual sums up to $7,500 each. In a statement regarding the settlement, Terranea president Terri A. Haack said, “we are happy to have resolved this matter and avoided a costly and lengthy litigation that would have largely benefited a small group of plaintiff lawyers.” Haack continued in the statement by saying, “employees will receive individual sums that are a very small fraction of what the attorneys will receive.”
Haack concluded by saying, “We are confident that we would have prevailed in court, but believe our resources are better spent delivering exceptional experiences at Terranea that support our employees, enchant our guests and strengthen our community.”
In 2018, former Terranea dishwasher and chef’s assistant Sandra Pezqueda filed a lawsuit against the resort and its staffing agency. Pezqueda alleged that she was sexually harassed and assaulted by an unnamed supervisor in 2016 and she said that she was fired from her position after reporting the incident. This high-profile case landed Pezqueada in an article in Time Magazine with other #MeToo advocates like Taylor Swift. In a settlement, Pezqueada received $250,000 from Terranea’s staffing agency and the resort was not implicated in any wrongdoing.
In 2018, Jasmin Sanchez filed a lawsuit against Terranea Resort. It accused Stephen Harrington, the manager who conducted investigations into Pezqueda’s case, of sexual harassment and assault. Later, a former dishwasher named Monica Sanchez told the Guradian that Harrington sexually harassed her. Harrington resigned in November of 2016 and Terranea issued a statement saying “These are very serious allegations that do not reflect the values or culture of Terranea.”
According to The Guardian, three other former housekeepers said in sworn affidavits that managers sexually harassed them. They said that complaints to upper management were ignored or seen as a joke. Yet a Terranea spokesperson told the Guardian “We have a zero-tolerance policy toward unlawful harassment of any kind.” Terranea also said that the affidavits were never filed in court.
Correction, May 15, 2018: This article was amended to correct inaccuracies in the nature of the 2019 settlement and to include a statement from Terranea regarding the settlement.