Former employees who were laid off during pandemic sue Chicago hotel to regain jobs
CHICAGO – Three women who lost their jobs during the pandemic are suing a Chicago hotel.
The women worked at the Swissotel in the Loop and said the hotel was breaking the law by not bringing them back to work.
Maria Ruiz, Maria Teresa Hernandez and a third woman filed a complaint on Tuesday and said the hotel refused to bring them back to work, despite decades of service and an order requiring the hotel to do so.
Ruiz was made redundant last fall, in the midst of a pandemic. She worked at Swissotel for almost 25 years.
“I started out as a housekeeper, then I became a banquet waitress,” she said. “I gave everything to the hotel. I sacrificed time with my three children to be a good worker.
Ruiz is eager to return to work, but said the hotel will not hire him.
“I have been ignored even though the hotel knows I want to come back to work,” she said. “I tried to enforce the law through the hotel, but they won’t.”
Chicago passed the Hotel Workers Return to Work Ordinance in June. The order requires Chicago hotels to bring back employees who have been laid off due to the pandemic before hiring new ones.
“I think of all the years of loyalty I have given to the company, all the time I missed with my kids, I don’t deserve to be treated that way,” Hernandez said.
Their lawyer, Steve Yokich, said Swissotel ignored the women who helped pass the law in the first place.
“We anticipated this problem last spring,” he said. “We lobbied the city council and the mayor and worked with responsible hotel chains and passed the law on the right of hotels to return to work. The law requires the hotel to rehire its workers based on their length of service in the hotel before the pandemic. ”
Former employees said they were scrambling for new jobs when they just wanted to get their old ones back.
“I am 51 years old,” Ruiz said. “No matter how hard I try, I haven’t been able to find another regular job. I was so scared of what will happen to me and my family.
WGN News has contacted Swisshotel and its parent company Accor for comment, but has not received a response.
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