Ex-Chateau Marmont Workers Want Jay-Z Party Investigated

And they want the bar's permits rescinded

View of Chateau Marmont on Sunset Strip, August 19, 2020, in West Hollywood, California. - For nearl...

On Sunday night, the hospitality workers union UNITE HERE Local 11 staged a picket line outside the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles during Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s post-Oscars “Gold Party.” Now, they claim the afterparty violated the hotel bar’s conditional use permit. The union is requesting an investigation into the party to rescind the bar’s permit, according to a letter obtained by Gawker. They plan to file the request Thursday morning.

For nearly two years, UNITE HERE Local 11 has been leading a boycott against the hotel. During the summer of 2020, the Chateau’s owner, alleged groper Andre Balazs, laid off 248 of his long-time employees, leaving them without income or health insurance during the pandemic. When Balazs announced the layoffs, the Chateau hospitality workers had been in talks about unionization, and they saw the staff cuts — ostensibly due to Balazs’ decision to make the venue a “members-only” lodge — as a form of preemptive union-busting (a spokesperson for the Chateau denied that the two were related). That summer and in the years since, the ex-staffers began to protest regularly outside the hotel, calling for the right to return to their positions, while lambasting the Chateau’s working conditions, which they claimed involved persistent racial discrimination and sexual misconduct. Around the same time, two former employees filed civil lawsuits against the hotel over similar allegations. Sources told Gawker those lawsuits are now in private talks to reach settlements.

This boycott has been very high-profile. Local 11’s pledge to avoid the hotel until the labor dispute is resolved has been signed by many public figures around Los Angeles, including Steven Van Zandt, Lizzy Caplan, Alison Pill, Virginia Madsen, Alfonso Cuarón, Lauren Ashley Smith, Ashley Nicole Black, Lena Heady, Amanda Seyfried, Edie Falco, Robin Thede, Daveed Diggs, and Jane Fonda. But on Sunday night, Jay-Z and Beyoncé rented out the Chateau’s bar, Bar Marmont, for their annual Oscars afterparty — their first since Feb. 2020. The protesters staged a picket line outside, projecting the word “BOYCOTT” against the hotel’s facade, setting up a step-and-repeat at the base of its driveway, and delivering speeches for a crowd of some 75 attendees. But several dozen celebrities crossed the picket line anyway, to party with the Carters until early the next morning. Notably, the only one to express regret and sign the pledge after attending was Rosario Dawson. (While well-intentioned, she might still not understand the concept of a picket line.)

Now, in a complaint addressed to Osama Younan at the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, Local 11 staff attorney Zoe Tucker wrote that “it appears that Bar Marmont violated multiple terms of its conditional use permit (CUP) issued in 2014,” and calls for an investigation into party in order to “assert the interests of the surrounding neighborhood and the City of Los Angeles as expressed in the zoning process.”

The letter notes that the bar holds three liquor licenses set to expire on June 30, and has operated under a “conditional use permit” (CUP) since Feb. 12, 2014. Tucker claims the Gold Party, organized by Carter’s entertainment company Roc Nation, was “in egregious violation” of the bar’s permit.

The private party started around 11 p.m.; maintained a highly exclusive guest list and did not allow the general public to enter; played music that was audible outside the premises; continued past 2 a.m. and until at least 6 a.m.; required cars to drop off attendees on sunset, causing some to double park; attendees partied outdoors, with many attendees partying on an outdoor patio.

Tucker claimed this violated at least nine terms of the CUP, including ones pertaining to the volume and length of the party, as well as others limiting Bar Marmont’s hours of operation and prohibiting the bar from being rented out to third parties for nightclub activity and being used for private parties from which the general public is excluded.

“Jay-Z’s decision to hold his party at the morally bankrupt Chateau Marmont may have the unintended consequence of causing the hotel to lose their ability to serve alcohol at the bar,” Tucker told Gawker, “The City of Los Angeles is duty-bound to hold the Chateau Marmont responsible for adhering to the conditions of its permit, no matter whose party it was.”

A spokesperson for the Chateau argued the union’s framing was misleading. When Roc Nation leased the space, he told Gawker, they were responsible for arranging special use permits that superceded the bar’s CUP. The Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety did not immediately return our request for comment. But one attendee may have captured the spirit of her fellow picket-line crossers’ response; in a clip posted by videographer Sean Beckerner-Carmitchel, she explained to another videographer at the scene: “Go fuck yourself.”

This post has been updated to include comment from the Chateau Marmont and UNITE HERE Local 11.