In the country’s largest settlement concerning fair workweek laws, Mayor Eric Adams announced a $20 million settlement with Chipotle on Tuesday to pay around 13,000 workers who have not had predictable work schedules and safe paid sick leave – a violation of New York City law.
The settlement agreement comes after 160 Chipotle employees and the 32BJ Service Employees International Union filed complaints to the city’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection. As a result, anyone who worked hourly for Chipotle in New York City can expect to receive $50 a week for each week worked from November 26th, 2017 to April 30th, 2022 up to $3,900. Chipotle is also required to pay $1 million directly to the city in civil penalties.
“Workers must be able to plan their lives,” the mayor said at a press conference on Tuesday. “The days of fast food workers as being merely college students - that is just not a reality. Many are parents, many are sole providers for their families.”
The city Department of Consumer and Worker Protection began its investigation in 2018 and filed a lawsuit against Chipotle in 2019 for failing to give employees their work schedules 14 days in advance, requiring employees to work extra time without advanced written consent and failing to allow employees to use sick leave, according to the settlement agreement.
Chipotle’s chief restaurant owner said that the franchise will offer additional management resources and “improved time keeping technology” to comply with New York City work laws.
“We’re pleased to be able to resolve these issues and believe this settlement demonstrates Chipotle’s commitment to providing opportunities for all of our team members while also complying with the Fair Workweek law,” Chipotle Chief Restaurant Officer Scott Boatwright said in a statement.
New York City’s fair workweek law requires fast food employers to give workers regular schedules that stay the same from week to week, give their schedules 14 days in advance, pay workers a premium for schedule changes and give workers the opportunity to work more regular hours before hiring new employees.
City officials said they have closed more than 220 investigations and required $3.4 million in combined fines for more than 4,150 workers already against employers who violated the law, outside of the settlement reached with Chiptole.
New York City’s paid safe and sick leave law also requires all employers to offer sick leave to their workers, with the specific amount dependent on how many workers the employer has. Employers that have 100 or more employees are required to provide up to 56 hours of paid leave.
“These rights are important … because working people need scheduling stability and the chance to pick up more hours to pay rent and put food on the table,” said Vilda Vera Mayuga, the commissioner of the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection.
Mayuga also said her office is actively investigating complaints from employers working at other fast food companies.
Chipotle employees need to file a claim to receive a payment and former employees will receive a notice with how much money they will receive, and how to file a complaint. Officials will send reminder texts and email to current employees who have not cashed their checks offered by the settlement.