The Los Angeles Airport Hilton Hotel has sued the city of Los Angeles challenging the legality of the city's living wage ordinance that targets airport area hotels.
In the action filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, the LAX Hilton, also seeks an injunction preventing the city from enforcing the ordinance, which goes into effect this week.
An earlier suit filed by 12 airport area hotels seeking to block the ordinance on procedural grounds was rejected by the California Supreme Court in April. The new Hilton lawsuit goes straight to the central issue of the dispute, challenging the city's authority to impose a living wage on companies that have no direct contractual relationship with the city.
"The City of Los Angeles does not have the right to impose a wage law that only affects a dozen hotels on one street that have no financial or contractual relationship with the city," Grant Coonley, LAX Hilton's general manager, said in a statement. "The most basic review shows this law is unfair."
Coonley contends that in passing the ordinance, the city was acting at the behest of Unite HERE Local 11, which has been conducting a lengthy organizing campaign targeting airport area hotels. He charged that the ordinance was designed as a punitive measure targeting hotels that do not agree to union contracts.
The hotel is owned by Fortuna Enterprises LP, whose managing partner is Universal Fortuna Investment Inc., run by U.S.-based family members of Taiwanese businessman Henry Hsu. The partnership bought the hotel in 1992.
"I am extremely disappointed that Hilton Hotel's owners are continuing to spend money to avoid doing the right thing, which is to pay their employees a decent living wage," said City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, one of the chief sponsors of the ordinance.
In a statement, the office of Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo said, "The City Attorney believes that the ordinance is valid and will defend it vigorously."
Hotels affected by the ordinance must pay employees at least $10 an hour with health benefits, or $11.25 an hour without benefits. The state's current minimum wage is $8 an hour.
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