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Workers at Trump golf course and Terranea resort file lawsuit over 'panic button' ballot measure

Workers at Trump golf course and Terranea resort file lawsuit over 'panic button' ballot measure
A woman relaxes by the fire pit at the Terranea Spa, at Terranea resort in Rancho Palos Verdes. Union workers collected enough signatures for a ballot measure to require the resort and the nearby Trump National Golf Club to provide panic buttons for workers. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

A petition drive to force the exclusive Terranea Resort and nearby Trump National Golf Club to provide employees with panic buttons and wage increases is now the subject of a lawsuit alleging that the city of Rancho Palos Verdes is refusing to put the measure on the ballot.

The Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters certified last week that a union representing workers at the two Rancho Palos Verdes businesses had collected enough valid signatures to put the initiative on the ballot.

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Under state law, Rancho Palos Verdes was required to put the measure on the city council’s next scheduled meeting so that the elected officials could vote to place the measure on the next citywide election.

But in a lawsuit filed Wednesday by lawyers for the union, Unite Here Local 11, says Rancho Palos Verdes City Clerk Emily Colborn did not put the measure on the next scheduled meeting — which was June 19 — in violation of state law.

Colborn said the county’s registrar of voters didn’t notify her that the minimum of 3,300 valid signatures were collected on the petition until after Colborn had already completed the agenda for the June 19 meeting. She said the measure will instead be placed on the next meeting, July 17, with enough time for the council to vote to put it on the Nov. 6 election ballot.

The lawsuit asks a superior court judge to force the city to put the measure on the July 17 agenda.

The initiative would force the Terranea Resort and the Trump National Golf Club to provide panic buttons for employees who work alone in isolated locations and may be vulnerable to threats and sexual assaults, the union said. The buttons can be used to automatically call for aid.

The measure also would guarantee workers $15-an-hour minimum wages and other benefits.

The ritzy resort on the shore of the Palos Verdes Peninsula was targeted by the union because Sandra Pezqueda, a former Terranea Resort worker, said she was fired in 2016 after complaining about sexual advances by her supervisor.

A representative of Terranea said a settlement was recently reached between Pezqueda and an outside temporary staffing agency whose two employees were involved in the claim of harassment at the resort. The resort said it no longer is involved in a lawsuit about harassment allegations.

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