New York City law affords workers several protections to ensure they are treated and paid fairly. However, companies violate these laws far too often, depriving employees of rights and earnings to which they are entitled. Taking legal action against these employers can shift the cost of these mistakes onto those who made them.
Recently, for instance, Chipotle agreed to pay $20 million after the company was accused of underpaying workers and violating several city policies.
If you are a fast food worker in the city, your schedules are protected by local laws. Under the Fair Workweek Law, fast food employers must:
- Give workers their schedules at least two weeks in advance
- Give workers predictable schedules
- Allow workers to refuse “clopening” shifts (closing the business at night and then opening it the following day)
- Pay a premium for clopening shifts and schedule changes
- Offer open shifts to current workers before hiring new employees
New York City alleged that Chipotle violated several of these requirements and estimates that Chipotle’s scheduling violations alone robbed workers of about $150 million.
Sick leave violations
Chipotle also reportedly violated workers’ rights to sick leave. City laws require that companies provide employees with a certain amount of paid sick time every year. Companies like Chipotle that have more than 100 workers must allow workers to take up to 56 hours of paid sick time every year, which the company reportedly failed to do.
Holding employers accountable
Companies that violate their employees’ rights should be held accountable for their actions. Reporting each violation can be crucial, as each one violation can be a critical piece of a bigger picture.
For example, in the case of Chipotle, the company’s violations affected about 13,000 workers, each of whom will receive $50 for every week worked between November 2017 and April 2022.
These figures add up quickly in terms of the people affected and the dollars involved.
The best way for employees to protect themselves from unscrupulous employers is to understand their rights and take action immediately upon learning of any violation.