For Immediate Release
Wednesday, August 16, 2023
Settlements secure nearly $5 million in restitution for workers and civil penalties
NEW YORK, NY – Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga today announced millions of dollars in employee relief secured for workers from three major restaurant chains over the past months to resolve violations of the City’s Fair Workweek Law: Panda Express, Au Bon Pain, and 7-Eleven’s “Raise the Roost.” The companies will pay a combined $4.5 million in restitution to nearly 2,400 workers, and $417,000 in civil penalties. All three businesses are also required to comply with the law going forward.
“Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is already a challenge for so many New Yorkers, but it’s nearly impossible without a predictable work schedule,” said DCWP Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga. “Predictable scheduling allows working New Yorkers to balance taking care of themselves, their families, and loved ones. To all New York City fast food workers, if you believe you have been experiencing unfair scheduling in your workplace, we urge you to contact us as soon as possible.”
“Our food service workers put their all into their work, feeding millions of New Yorkers daily,” said Council Member Marjorie Velázquez, chair of the Committee on Consumer and Worker Protection. “Far too many corporations and management teams take advantage of their employees by violating their Fair Workweek rights, and the lack of accountability surrounding predictable schedules is burdensome, taking away from the employee’s rights and work-life balance. This settlement serves as a reminder that corporations would not succeed without their employees, and if they want to do business in New York City, they must follow the law.”
Panda Express will pay $3.15 million in restitution to more than 1,400 workers and $300,000 in civil penalties. As part of the settlement, they will have to pay more than $8,000 in back pay to a worker who was fired in retaliation for exercising his rights under the Fair Workweek Law. DCWP’s investigation also found that, at all NYC locations, Panda Express violated the Fair Workweek Law by failing to consistently:
Au Bon Pain will pay nearly $1.2 million in restitution to more than 950 workers and more than $108,000 in civil penalties. DCWP’s investigation into Au Bon Pain found that 14 NYC locations violated the Fair Workweek Law by failing to consistently:
7-Eleven’s “Raise the Roost” will pay nearly $143,000 in restitution to 30 workers, and over $9,000 in civil penalties. DCWP’s investigation found that Raise the Roost’s location at 82 Greenwich Street in Manhattan violated the Fair Workweek Law by failing to:
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. Fast food employers must post the notice, NYC Fast Food Worker’s Rights, where employees can easily see it and in the primary language of at least five percent of workers at a workplace. Employers and employees can visit nyc.gov/workers or call 311 (212-NEW-YORK outside New York City) for more information about the law, including an overview of the law, information about filing a complaint, the required progressive discipline policy, different templates for signage that must be posted, and FAQs. Complaints can be filed anonymously. It is illegal for employers to retaliate against employees for filing complaints.
DCWP’s cases were handled by Supervising Investigator Juana Abreu, Staff Counsel Maria Jennings, Staff Counsel Marlee Belford, Senior Enforcement Counsel Margot Finkel, Director of Investigations Shane Ross, Director of Data Science Elizabeth Major, and Senior Data Scientist David Rauch of DCWP’s Office of Labor Policy & Standards, under the supervision of Deputy Commissioner Elizabeth Wagoner.
The NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP)—formerly the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA)—protects and enhances the daily economic lives of New Yorkers to create thriving communities. DCWP licenses more than 45,000 businesses in more than 40 industries and enforces key consumer protection, licensing, and workplace laws that apply to countless more. By supporting businesses through equitable enforcement and access to resources and, by helping to resolve complaints, DCWP protects the marketplace from predatory practices and strives to create a culture of compliance. Through its community outreach and the work of its offices of Financial Empowerment and Labor Policy & Standards, DCWP empowers consumers and working families by providing the tools and resources they need to be educated consumers and to achieve financial health and work-life balance. DCWP also conducts research and advocates for public policy that furthers its work to support New York City’s communities. For more information about DCWP and its work, call 311 or visit DCWP at nyc.gov/dcwp or on its social media sites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
Michael Lanza / Stephany Vasquez Sanchez
Department of Consumer and Worker Protection