By Sabina Mollot
A Chipotle restaurant on East 14th Street must pay $2,500 and rehire a worker that was recently fired for taking sick leave.
In an announcement from the mayor’s office and the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) Commissioner Lorelei Salas said firing the woman was illegal as was the fact that she was not paid for the time she took off to take care of an illness as well as her family.
As part of the settlement announced Wednesday, the worker will be reinstated at her previous rate and receive an amount that equals three times the pay for the time she took off in addition to the $2,500. This is because the DCWP found that the firing was retaliatory for taking sick leave.
The worker was referred to the DCWP in January by the union 32BJ.
“New York City is on the side of working people,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Paid Safe and Sick Leave is the law of the land, and we will continue to hold corporations accountable. Retaliating against workers for taking a sick day – something no CEO would go without – is inhumane.”
DCWP Commissioner Lorelei Salas, whose department has been investigating the Mexican fast food chain’s locations across the city, said the company has “repeatedly” violated its employees’ rights and vowed to continue to prosecute employers who don’t provide paid sick leave.
“We thank 32BJ SEIU for referring the worker to us and urge any worker facing these problems at work to file a complaint with our office,” said Salas.
DCWP’s larger investigation into Chipotle’s workplace is still ongoing. In September 2019, DCWP also announced a lawsuit against five Chipotle locations in Brooklyn for widespread violations of the City’s Fair Workweek Law, which requires predictable schedules in the fast food and retail industries. DCWP also said that the locations had an illegal sick leave policy. The case is pending at the City’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH).
Under the NYC Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law, employers with five or more employees who worked more than 80 hours per calendar year in New York City must provide paid sick leave to employees. Employers with fewer than five employees must provide unpaid safe and sick leave.
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.
City Council Member Carlina Rivera, who represents the district where the 117 East 14th Street Chipotle is located blasted the restaurant’s actions as “egregious.” She said she’d be working with DCWP and 32BJ to prevent similar abuses at Chipotle and other companies.
An employee who picked up the phone at the restaurant near Union Square Park declined to comment on the settlement.