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Workers settle employment lawsuit against local hotels

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Sixteen current and former Indianapolis hotel workers have settled their union-backed lawsuit that alleged employment violations by nine area hotels and Atlanta-based Hospitality Staffing Solutions, a subcontractor that employs many hotel workers.

The plaintiffs claimed they were forced to work off the clock and through breaks. Terms of the settlement are confidential.

The lawsuit, which came as Indianapolis hotels were preparing for an onslaught of Super Bowl visitors, initially targeted 10 area hotels, but the Holiday Inn Select Indianapolis Airport was dropped from the suit. When attorneys filed the suit in January, they said they hoped it could become a class action lawsuit and bring as much as $10 million in back pay to area hotel workers.

The settlement was reached before class-action status was addressed.

The allegations were made against the JW Marriott, Indianapolis Marriott Downtown, the Canterbury Hotel, the Conrad Indianapolis, Embassy Suites Downtown, Hyatt Regency Indianapolis, Hyatt Place Indianapolis Airport, the Omni Severin and the Westin Hotel.

Plaintiff Ava Sanchez said she is pleased with the outcome.

"I'm proud and excited because a small group of workers came together to raise our voices," the Greenwood resident said.

The lawsuit, led by the union Unite Here, prompted changes in industry practices that benefit those who still work in hotels, Sanchez said. Two of the 16 plaintiffs still work in hotels, but they no longer work through a staffing company, and they receive benefits like paid time off, said Sanchez, who works for the union as an organizer.

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