The New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection has filed a lawsuit against Mexican fast-casual food chain Chipotle, alleging that employees are owed more than $150 million in fair scheduling violation relief, according to a lawsuit.
The violations stem from the Fair Workweek Law, and concern actions such as changing workers' schedules with little to no advance notice or extra pay, requiring employees work consecutive shifts without enough time off or extra pay, and not offering additional shifts before hiring more staff to fill them, according to the lawsuit which was first reported by the New York Times. The law was partially designed to prevent stores from forcing employees to work a late shift and then bring them back early the next morning, known as "clopening."
Aside from the money owed to the workers, the complaint states that penalties against Chipotle could be even higher.
The city's complaint also alleges that Chipotle violated the paid sick leave law that requires up to 56 hours of paid sick leave each year. The lawsuit claims that the company broke the law by denying time off requests, making workers find their own replacements, or not paying employees for the time off that was taken, according to the Times' report.
All of the approximately 6,500 Chipotle workers in NYC were impacted by the violations, the lawsuit stated, and that on average, each worker experienced more than three scheduling violations every week.
The alleged violations occurred between Nov. 2017 (which is when the law was implemented) and Sept. 2019, which is when an earlier lawsuit by the city against a handful of Chipotle location was filed. The DCWP said that although some attempt at complying had been made, there were still new and ongoing violations.
"Since we first filed our case against Chipotle, we have unfortunately learned that those initial charges were just the tip of the iceberg," DCWP Commissioner Lorelei Salas told the Times in a statement.
In a tweet, Mayor Bill de Blasio shared his support for the lawsuit, saying the city's aim is to protect basic workers' rights.
"Chipotle has blatantly disregarded our laws and it's unacceptable. Workers deserve reliable schedules and we will do everything in our power to hold this corporation accountable," he said in the tweet.
Chipotle's Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Laurie Schalow said in a statement to NBC News that the city's lawsuit was "dramatic overreach," and that the company plans to "vigorously defend itself. Chipotle remains committed to its employees and their right to a fair, just, and humane work environment that provides opportunities to all."