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The Boston Globe reports on some of the backlash against the Four Season hotel on Boylston Street there, after it laid off 192 people - almost half its staff - and didn't pay them the severance to which they were entitled.

The story notes that the hospitality industry has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, "making layoffs unavoidable, but the Four Seasons caught flak for the insensitive way it handled the situation because the hotel is known for its stellar service provided by housekeepers, servers, concierge staff, and others. Many of those laid off had worked there for years."

Its treatment of the employees "sparked outrage from politicians, regular guests, and a hospitality workers’ union supporting the nonunion workers."

The Globe writes that "the Four Seasons handbook calls for one week of severance pay for every year worked, plus an additional six paid weeks for employees with more than 10 years of service, capped at 26 weeks. But it also contains a clause stating that in the event of a national emergency, the hotel is not obligated to provide separation pay."

In a statement, hotel general managerMichael Pedder said that "the events and outcry of the last two weeks have given all of us much to reflect on.  In large part thanks to your efforts you have reminded all of us that, notwithstanding the circumstances, we have a duty to honor ― with respect and professionalism ― our people and their long-standing service and loyalty to the hotel. To the extent that we recently failed to meet that standard, we are sincerely sorry.”

KC's View:

Four Seasons didn't just commit a breach of trust with its employees.  It breached the brand equity and value proposition that it made core to its offering … which offended customers who expected more from it.  Four Seasons represented something more than a room - and when it veered away from its brand promise, people reacted.

That's both good news and bad news … you have enormously loyal customers, but they expect more of you.  Sounds like a pretty good tradeoff to me.