By Jamie Smith Hopkins, The Baltimore Sun
6:06 PM EST, January 24, 2013
The Hyatt Regency Baltimore has settled a federal complaint alleging unfair labor practices, the hotel and a local union said Thursday.
The agreement, signed Wednesday, came nine days after a National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge began hearing the case. The vast majority of cases before the board ultimately settle.
The federal agency's general counsel alleged that Hyatt Regency managers "interrogated employees about their union activities," began "invoking harsh discipline" when employees arrived late to work and fired four workers last year in reaction to their efforts to unionize with labor union Unite Here.
The Hyatt Regency said in a statement that it agreed to reinstate some of the workers "dismissed for workplace policy violations."
"We agreed to the settlement to preclude a long and costly trial, despite our firm belief that Hyatt has acted professionally, appropriately, and in a way that's supportive of Hyatt associates," Gail Smith-Howard, the hotel's general manager, said in the statement.
Tracy Lingo, an organizer with Unite Here Local 7 in Baltimore, which had asked the National Labor Relations Board to take the case, said the Hyatt reinstated two employees with back pay. One of the remaining two already had been rehired, and the other chose not to return in exchange for a "fairly substantial settlement payment," Lingo said.
The hotel also agreed to wipe out disciplinary actions taken against employees between June and January for arriving late by less than 10 minutes, "the disputed way in which they were enforcing a more stringent enforcement policy," Lingo said. The hotel also will post a statement on site that summarizes the allegations and employee rights, she said.
"This is definitely a step forward and is going to do a lot to affirm people's rights to organize," Lingo said.
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