Food & Drink

Signature Room employees asking for compensation after sudden closure

Employees believe the company violated the WARN Act, and owe workers wages and benefits for at least 60 days

NBC Universal, Inc.

It’s been almost a week since the iconic Signature Room and Lounge closed its doors for good. Now employees are figuring out their next steps, and that includes legal action.

On Wednesday, employees protested outside their now-former employer, holding signs that read their position and time spent.

Many committed decades to the Signature Room and Lounge, and want to be compensated after its sudden closure.

“I never expected the same day that you wake up, they send a message saying you have no more work,” said longtime bartender, Juan Cabrera. “After 20 years, it’s a very difficult situation.”

Cabrera said he’s still in shock, unsure now of how he’ll provide for his family of four.

“You know, we worked very hard for the company, so I don’t think it’s the right way to do that to employees.”

This week, Unite Here Local 1, the union representing hospitality workers, filed a lawsuit against the owners. The union also filed a report with the Illinois Department of Labor.

Union leaders said the owners broke a federal law known as the WARN Act, that mandates companies with more than 100 full-time employees provide 60 days advance written notice of closure or layoffs if it impacts more than 50 employees.

“We are here today with one simple request, that they follow the law,” said Union President Karen Kent. “That they pay these workers what they are owed.”

Dated October 3, employees received a letter from management acknowledging the WARN Act, writing that there was no way management could give advance notice because they were working to negotiate lease terms. Those negotiations proved to be unsuccessful, resulting in immediate closure.

“We deserve respect, we deserve a job, we deserve to go back to work,” Cabrera added.

Union leaders had planned to meet with the Signature Room and Lounge management team late Wednesday to discuss a path forward.

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