City Councilors Respond to Four Seasons Recent Layoffs

UPDATE: Since the writing of this article and following the City Council meeting, the Four Seasons has reversed their decision and agreed to pay the 192 laid-off workers their full severance packages.

In response to the controversial layoffs of nearly half of its staff by the Four Seasons on Boylston Street, City Councilors Ed Flynn (District 3) and Kenzie Bok (District 8) offered a resolution to support a statewide “right to recall” for hotel workers.

The Four Seasons laid off nearly half of its staff, sparking criticism from Boston’s City Council. Photo by Alyssa Nations.

A “right to recall” ordinance requires employers to recall employees in the order they were let go and before others in those positions if and when the company starts rehiring within two years. A copy of the proposal will also be sent to the Four Seasons, requesting the company to engage in negotiations that will provide their employees a fair severance.

Last month, due to financial hardships from the coronavirus pandemic, the hotel chain exercised a clause that absolved the company from paying their workers the full amount of owed severance during a national emergency.

The entire front-of-the-house staff at the Bristol Lounge was let go along with other longtime employees. Those who were permanently laid off were also told they would have to reapply later if their job openings were to become available again, meaning they would not be guaranteed their positions back.

“I don’t think that that’s a fair and just way for a business to act,” said Councilor Bok on Wednesday afternoon during the weekly City Council meeting.

Some of the workers who were laid off had worked for the hotel chain for decades and are now faced with financial crisis after receiving, in some cases, less than half of their owed severance.

“It’s likely that this may be the first shoe to drop with many more instances like this in the coming months,” stated Councilor Flynn, citing that many hospitality workers are people of color and women.

The proposal aims to protect non-unionized hospitality workers, such as the case with the Four Seasons employees, so that Boston is able to retain its diverse community.