For Immediate Release
Monday, October 31, 2022
The settlement secures $1.1 million in penalties and restitution for 511 workers
NEW YORK, NY – Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga today announced a settlement with George Michell of Michell McDonald’s Group, a McDonald’s franchisee with a history of violating the City’s workplace laws, to resolve continued violations of the City’s Fair Workweek Law. The franchisee will pay $1 million in restitution to 511 employees, including $23,500 in restitution to two employees who were terminated in retaliation for exercising their rights under the Fair Workweek Law, and pay $92,338.86 in civil penalties. They will also be required to come into compliance.
“We will not tolerate anyone looking to take advantage of workers,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “This settlement not only offers relief for employees whose rights were violated, but also sends a clear message that if you flout the City’s worker protection laws, we will hold you accountable. I'm lovin’ protecting workers’ rights.”
“Today, we are sending a clear message to any employer who fails to come into compliance,” said DCWP Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga. “We will not allow employers to repeatedly defy the City’s laws. Fast food workers deserve fair treatment in their workplaces, and we will ensure that they receive justice and restitution.”
This is DCWP’s second Fair Workweek investigation into Mr. Michell’s McDonald’s franchise operations in New York City, and represents an escalation in DCWP’s enforcement approach for repeated violations. DCWP first reached a settlement to resolve violations at the company’s McDonald’s location on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Vanderbilt Avenue in Brooklyn in 2019, which required the company to pay $34,865 in restitution to 92 workers and $3,635 in civil penalties. After the first settlement, DCWP received new worker complaints from the same location, which alleged continued noncompliance with the Fair Workweek Law. Due to the serious nature of the alleged ongoing violations, which pointed to company-wide compliance issues, DCWP opened a second investigation and expanded it to all seven of the franchisee’s Brooklyn McDonald’s locations.
“Fast food workers deserve to have our fair scheduling rights, that we organized with the union to win, respected,” said Tommy Nicolas, worker at a Michell McDonald’s franchise location. “Unpredictable schedules on short notice hurts not only us, but our families who depend on us. Michell McDonald’s Group and other companies may try to get away with breaking the law, but we fast food workers won’t give up on standing together, educating ourselves on our rights and speaking up. I’m thankful to my co-workers and the City for taking a stand against corporations who break the law.”
“It is courageous to stand up to your boss, to unite with your co-workers and call out your employer for mistreating you and breaking the law,” said 32BJ SEIU President Kyle Bragg. “These brave McDonald’s franchise workers did that at great risk. They did not give up, kept pushing, and today they are getting some justice. Michell McDonald’s Group, a McDonald’s franchisee, is a repeat violator and will now pay up for a second time. Again, a lesson for the industry – you can’t ignore rules meant to protect working New Yorkers from the fast food industry’s practice of arbitrary and harmful scheduling practices. Workers need stability and schedules they can count on. We thank Department of Consumer and Worker Protection Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga and her team for their steadfast efforts to win $1 million in restitution for more than 500 fast food workers. And we congratulate these New Yorkers on a historic victory for them and their coworkers as well as all working people across this city.”
DCWP’s second investigation found that, between February 2019 and December 2020, the franchisee continued to violate the Fair Workweek Law by:
The investigation also found that the franchisee violated the NYC Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law by prohibiting employees from using paid sick leave. The settlement includes worker compensation for these violations as well.
The McDonald’s franchise locations covered by the investigation are:
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.
Since the Fair Workweek Law went into effect in November 2017, DCWP has received more than 500 complaints about Fair Workweek, opened more than 250 investigations and obtained resolutions requiring over $24 million in combined fines and restitution for more than 17,000 workers, not including the amounts recovered in this case.
DCWP’s case was handled by Supervising Investigator Alex Moran, Senior Enforcement Counsel Emily Hoffman and Data Scientists Elizabeth Major and Maria Milosh of DCWP’s Office of Labor Policy & Standards, under the supervision of Acting Deputy Commissioner Elizabeth Wagoner.
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
NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) protects and enhances the daily economic lives of New Yorkers to create thriving communities. DCWP licenses more than 51,000 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 | Sheyla Navarro
Department of Consumer and Worker Protection