New Orleans is a city that depends heavily on tourism. Part of the busy season in 2020 ended due to forced closures and cancelled travel plans. 

Workers in New Orleans organized to create a hospitality worker relief fund in response.

New Orleans group advocates to get money from the Exhibition Hall Authority

The idea was started by a group of unions in the area, with support from work advocates and cultural support organizations. The first rally would be held online over the program Zoom, as there were still concerns about in person meetings due to the number of coronavirus cases in the state at the time. Organizers created a simple registration process for interested individuals to attend. 

Hospitality workers had started to make plans shortly after the coronavirus caused massive layoffs for those in the industry when it hit Louisiana. The GNO Fair Hospitality Fund had contacted the city’s Exhibition Hall Authority, which controls the convention center and related affairs, to ask for money from its cash reserves for hospitality workers. The EHA is sitting on millions of dollars that are mostly from taxes placed on food, beverage, and hotel sales, which were collected by hospitality workers over the years. Other organizations such as the non-profit New Orleans and Company were also asked for assistance. Over 30 other organizations had already partnered with the Fair Hospitality Fund to support their cause.

The coalition sent a formal letter which said that the cash reserves exist only due to the hard work of locals in the hospitality industry. It further states that one of the purposes of the fund is to provide rainy day relief for those affected by emergencies that have devastated the industry, which would include the coronavirus outbreak. The group believes that the local economy is driven by these workers, and they play an essential role in keeping the city’s unique culture alive. 

Industries hit hardest during the pandemic

Workers in the hospitality industry are often dependent on receiving a large portion of their wages from tips, which makes periods of unemployment especially difficult. Some employers will also try to pay these workers as little as possible, as most states in the U.S. allow businesses to compensate them at a rate lower than minimum wage if they interact with customers most of the time and can potentially receive tips. However, despite these labor laws that allow service industry and hospitality workers to be compensated in a different manner, some employers may still owe their workers unpaid wages if they were not paid properly. 

Learn more about employment law

To ensure that your employer is acting within the boundaries of the law, it is important to contact an attorney who focuses on labor and employment issues. To speak with a local legal professional, get in touch with:

Miller, Hampton, and Hilgendorf

3960 Government St., Baton Rouge, LA 70806


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