By: Ty Hyderally, Esq., Nina Lucibello, Jennifer Weitz, Esq.
For a city that never sleeps, New York City is home to approximately 670 individual hotels with a total of almost 122,000 rooms. In fact, NYC tourism generated $19.3 billion in tax revenues in 2019. As a result, NYC tourism accounted for about 7.2% of total private sector employment and 4.5% of private sector wages, making up a total of 376,800 jobs in 2019. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, employment in the NYC tourism industry declined by 89,000 jobs (approximately 31.4%) to 194,200 in 2020. Moreover, the Manhattan hotel industry itself lost about 46% of its jobs in 2020.
Thus, in efforts to protect hotel workers’ careers, City Council Member Francisco Moya introduced Intro 2397-A, which was signed by Mayor DeBlasio on October 5, 2021. Intro 2397-A requires severance pay for hotel service employees if a hotel with over 100 rooms, that laid off over 75% of its employees or closed during the pandemic, fails to reopen by November 1, 2021. Pursuant to the bill, hotels which do not reopen by the deadline must pay its workers a weekly severance of $500 for up to 30 weeks. The bill does not pertain to hotels that have not recalled at least 25% of employees and hotels which have closed permanently and have or is in the process of converting to an alternate use.
The bill was a response to economic recovery efforts, in attempts to ensure that out-of-work employees and their families are not left behind. Hotel workers are the “backbone” of the NYC tourism industry, and getting workers back to work will “incentiviz[e] the revitalization of NYC’s hotel industry,” according to Council Member Francisco Moya, who represents District 21 in Queens.
If any hotel workers have lost work due to hotel closures, they should seek severance pay pursuant to Intro 2397-A, if their employer does not reopen by November 1st. Additionally, as many other industries have also suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic, employees in other professions have equally suffered. Thus, it is important for employees to know their rights and entitlements. Employees who have lost work due to the COVID-19 pandemic may seek weekly unemployment benefits and actively search for work in the meantime. With increasing state efforts, such as the passing of Intro 2397-A, as well as growing vaccine numbers, there is hope that more and more industries will also be restored.
En nuestra firma hablamos español. This blog is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice, and may not reasonably be relied upon as such. If you face a legal issue, you should consult a qualified attorney for independent legal advice with regard to your particular set of facts. This blog may constitute attorney advertising. This blog is not intended to communicate with anyone in a state or other jurisdiction where such a blog may fail to comply with all laws and ethical rules of that state of jurisdiction.
 NYC Hotel Market Analysis: Existing Conditions and 15-Year Outlook, https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/planning/download/pdf/planning-level/housing-economy/nyc-hotel-market-analysis.pdf.
 Economic Impact of Visitors in New York 2019, https://esd.ny.gov/sites/default/files/NYC-2019-NYS-Tourism-Economic-Impact.pdf.
 The Tourism Industry in New York City: Reigniting the Return, https://www.osc.state.ny.us/reports/osdc/tourism-industry-new-york-city.
 NYC Council Votes to Pass Intro 2397-A, https://council.nyc.gov/francisco-moya/2021/09/23/nyc-council-votes-to-pass-intro-2397-a-introduced-by-council-member-francisco-moya-that-would-require-severance-pay-for-hotel-service-employees/.