New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga today announced a settlement with Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.
This will deliver up to approximately $20 million in compensation to approximately 13,000 workers who experienced violations of their right to predictable schedules and paid sick leave under the Fair Workweek and Paid Safe and Sick Leave laws.
Chipotle will also pay $1 million in civil penalties. The agreement is the result of DCWP’s multiyear investigation into complaints filed by 160 Chipotle employees and by 32BJ SEIU. DCWP’s investigation found major violations of laws that affected all Chipotle employees in New York City.
The settlement with Chipotle is the largest fair workweek settlement nationwide and the largest worker protection settlement in New York City history.
“Restaurants and fast food outlets are a critical part of our economy and our daily life here in New York City, but they cannot exist without the hard-working people who are cooking and serving and delivering our food,” said Mayor Adams. “Today’s settlement with Chipotle is not only a victory for workers by securing up to $20 million in relief for approximately 13,000 workers, but also sends a strong message, as the largest worker protection settlement in New York City history, that we won’t stand by when workers’ rights are violated. I thank 32BJ SEIU for helping uncover these violations and the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection for getting justice for these workers.”
“Our city’s recovery depends on increasing access to economic opportunity, and the Fair Workweek Law helps turn unpredictable schedules into stable jobs,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer. “This settlement agreement with Chipotle brings justice to workers whose hard work is key to our recovery. I want to thank the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection for their robust enforcement of these laws.”
“Fast food workers have the right to predictable schedules and paid safe and sick leave,” said DCWP Commissioner Mayuga. “Today, we are delivering up to $20 million to Chipotle workers to compensate them for violations of these rights. To any fast food worker experiencing scheduling instability, we are here to support you.”
“Hard-working restaurant employees deserve to be protected from the stresses of unpredictable work schedules, last-minute shift changes, and being last on the list for job opportunities,” said New York City Corporation Counsel Sylvia Hinds-Radix. “This settlement shows that the city is committed to enforcing this local law, which improves the quality of life for workers who play a vital role in the city’s economic recovery.”
Under the agreement, anyone who worked for Chipotle in an hourly position in New York City will receive $50 for each week worked from November 26, 2017 to April 30, 2022. For example, an employee who worked for Chipotle continuously for a year and a half (78 weeks) will receive $3,900. Employees who were employed with Chipotle on April 30, 2022 will receive a check in the mail along with a letter explaining how their amount was calculated.
Former Chipotle employees must file a claim to receive a payment. Former employees, whose employment ended before April 30, 2022, will receive a notice by mail, email, and text message with information about how much money they will receive, how the amount was calculated, and how to file a claim online or by mail.
In 2018, DCWP initiated an investigation into Chipotle’s compliance with the Fair Workweek and the Paid Safe and Sick Leave laws at locations in Brooklyn after receiving complaints from fast food employees.
In 2019, following the investigation, DCWP filed a case against Chipotle at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings for violating the Fair Workweek Law at these locations.
In April 2021, after uncovering significant new information about violations across New York City, DCWP expanded the case against Chipotle to include locations citywide.
DCWP’s investigation found violations of the Fair Workweek and Paid Safe and Sick Leave laws.
Among other violations, DCWP found that Chipotle violated the laws by:
- Failing to give employees their work schedules 14 days in advance;
- Requiring employees to work extra time without their advance written consent;
- Failing to pay premium pay for schedule changes;
- Requiring employees to work “clopening” shifts (when workers work the closing shift one day and the opening shift the very next day with less than 11 hours in between) without paying the required $100 premium;
- Failing to offer available shifts to current employees before hiring new employees; and
- Failing to allow employees to use accrued safe and sick leave.
Under the Fair Workweek Law, fast food employers in New York City must give workers regular schedules, work schedules 14 days in advance that are consistent with the regular schedule, premium pay for schedule changes, the opportunity to decline to work additional time, and the opportunity to work newly available shifts before hiring new workers.
Fast food employers also cannot schedule a “clopening” shift unless the worker consents in writing and receives a $100 premium to work the shift. Further, fast food employers cannot fire or reduce the hours of a worker by more than 15 percent without just cause or a legitimate business reason.
The required “NYC Fast Food Workers’ Rights” must be posted in any language that is the primary language of at least five percent of the workers at a workplace if available on DCWP’s website. The Fair Workweek Law also protects retail workers.
Under the retail provisions of the law, retail employers must also give workers 72 hours of advance notice of work schedules and may not schedule workers for on-call shifts or change workers’ schedules with less than 72 hours of notice.
The required “You Have a Right to a Predictable Work Schedule” for retail establishments must also be posted in any language that is the primary language of at least five percent of the workers at the workplace if available on DCWP’s website.
Since the Fair Workweek Law went into effect in November 2017, DCWP has received more than 440 complaints about Fair Workweek, closed more than 220 investigations, and obtained resolutions requiring nearly $3.4 million in combined fines and restitution for more than 4,150 workers, not including the restitution employees will receive under this agreement.
Under the Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law, all employers in New York City must provide safe and sick leave to employees. Covered employees have the right to use safe and sick leave for the care and treatment of themselves or a family member and to seek legal and social services assistance or take other safety measures if the employee or a family member may be the victim of any act or threat of domestic violence or unwanted sexual contact, stalking, or human trafficking.
Employers with fewer than five employees and a net income of $1 million or more, employers with between five and 99 employees, and employers with one or more domestic workers must provide 40 hours of paid leave. Employers with 100 or more employees must provide up to 56 hours of paid leave.
Employers with fewer than five employees and a net income of less than $1 million must provide unpaid safe and sick leave. Safe and sick leave is accrued at a rate of one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked and begins on an employee’s first day of employment.
Employers who do not front-load safe and sick leave on the first day of a new calendar year must allow employees to carry over up to 40 or 56 hours of unused safe and sick leave from one calendar year to the new calendar year, depending on the size of that employer.
The law was also recently expanded to provide covered employees with an extra four hours of paid leave per child under the age of 18, per COVID-19 vaccination/booster.
As part of the Fair Workweek Law, employees of private employers can request up to two days of unpaid leave under the Temporary Schedule Change Law.
Since the Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law went into effect in April 2014, DCWP has received more than 2,663 complaints about paid safe and sick time, closed more than 2,337 investigations, and obtained resolutions requiring more than $16.8 million combined fines and restitution for more than 44,873 workers, not including the compensation employees will receive under this agreement.
Workers can file a complaint online or call 311 if they believe their rights have been violated. Complaints can be filed anonymously.
It is illegal for employers to retaliate against employees for filing complaints.
Photo credit: Harlem.