January 26, 2024
NEW YORK, NY – Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga today announced nearly $3 million in relief secured for workers from six major businesses to resolve violations of the City’s workplace laws: White Castle, Taco Bell, Domino’s Pizza, Amazon, Farm Country grocery store, and Public Preparatory Network, a charter school company. The companies will pay a combined $2.7 million in restitution to more than 3,570 workers, more than $343,000 in civil penalties and costs, and must comply with the law going forward.
“Working-class New Yorkers are this administration’s top priority. Through these impressive settlements, we are standing up for thousands of workers who had their rights violated and putting millions back into their pockets,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “Employers that do not provide workers with a fair work week, paid sick leave, and other legally mandated benefits are on warning — our administration takes workplace laws seriously and we will hold you accountable.”
“NYC is a working people’s city, and we will not allow businesses to violate the law and deny workers their rights, like the right to a predictable schedule or the use of paid safe and sick leave,” said DCWP Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga. “DCWP strives to build a culture of compliance and offers resources to employers to help them comply with our laws. To all businesses in NYC, please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have questions.”
Taco Bell franchisee, GF Enterprise III, will pay more than $819,000 in restitution to 888 workers and nearly $81,000 in civil penalties and costs. DCWP’s investigation found that, at 10 locations across the city, Taco Bell violated the Fair Workweek Law and the Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law by failing to consistently:
White Castle will pay nearly $777,000 in restitution to 1,500 workers and more than $75,000 in civil penalties and costs. DCWP’s investigation found that, at all NYC locations, White Castle violated the Fair Workweek Law by failing to consistently:
Farm Country, a grocery store, will pay more than $368,000 in restitution to 42 workers and more than $31,000 in civil penalties and costs. DCWP’s investigation found that the company violated the Grocery Worker Retention Act when it took over a former Key Foods location by terminating employees instead of retaining them for 90 days after the ownership transfer, as the law requires.
Public Preparatory Network, a non-profit network of charter schools, will pay more than $318,000 in restitution to 675 workers and more than $31,000 in civil penalties and costs. DCWP’s investigation found that, at six locations across the city, the company maintained unlawful “blackout dates” when employees were not allowed to use safe and sick leave.
Domino’s Pizza franchisee, Robert Cookston, will pay $288,000 in restitution to 192 workers and $32,000 in civil penalties and costs. DCWP’s investigation found that, at four of his franchise locations located in the Bronx and Manhattan, Mr. Cookston violated the Fair Workweek Law and the Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law by failing to consistently:
Amazon will pay more than $136,000 in restitution to 273 workers and nearly $93,000 in civil penalties and costs. DCWP’s investigation found that Amazon violated the Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law by failing to provide certain part-time and short-term workers with accrued sick leave at its Woodside, Queens DBK1 location.
“Holding employers accountable for violating the City’s Fair Workweek Law is vital to protecting workers and their rights,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “This $3 million settlement with six businesses that consistently failed to follow the law sends a critical message to workers across the city that their labor is valued. Enforcement of worker protections remains critical for our communities, and I thank the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection for their actions to support the impacted workers.”
“As a former Commissioner of the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, I understand how vitally important it is to enforce laws and regulations that protect the lives of New York City’s hardworking employees,” said Council Member Julie Menin, Chair of the Committee on Consumer and Worker Protection. “Our laws are clear that workers have rights from paid sick leave to a fair workweek, and I applaud Commissioner Mayuga and the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection for obtaining restitution for workers whose rights were violated. This sends a clear message that harm to workers will not be tolerated, and there will always be accountability when there are violations of workers’ rights. I look forward to the city continuing this work.”
“As Chair of the Civil Service and Labor Committee at the City Council and a sponsor of earned safe and sick time and fair workweek legislation, it is encouraging to see our workers get the justice they deserve and see our labor law enforcement produce positive results,” said Council Member Carmen De La Rosa. “Our workforce is the backbone of our city, and the employers must comply and do right by their workers. This is a reminder to companies operating in NYC; we are a union town, and you must operate in good faith if you’re seeking business within our city limits. We are proud to have a dedicated Department of Consumer and Worker Protection that ensures unscrupulous employers and companies do not get away with harming our workers.”
“New York City has robust worker protection laws, but they are only as good as their enforcement,” said Council Member Gale A. Brewer. “Credit to the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection. It is extremely gratifying to see that the city’s Earned Safe and Sick Time Act, which I passed in 2013, remains a strong recourse for workers who are denied their rights. I look forward to my ongoing work with Commissioner Mayuga to educate workers on their rights.”
“The NYC Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, commends the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection for its diligent efforts in securing nearly $3 million in direct relief for more than 3,570 workers from major businesses found in violation of our City’s workplace laws,” said Vincent Alvarez, NYC Central Labor Council President. “NYC’s Fair Work Week Law and Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law are critical to protecting workers' rights to predictable schedules and to use safe and sick leave to take care of themselves or a family member. These settlements prove that laws alone do not work unless we have strong enforcement. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with DCWP as they hold employers accountable and help to ensure fairness and justice for working families across our city.”
“The significance of this settlement goes beyond the $2.7 million figure,” said 32BJ SEIU Executive Vice President and Political Director Candis Tall. “In securing nearly three million dollars in relief for more than 3,000 workers, the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection delivered a powerful message to corporate giants like Amazon, Taco Bell, and Domino’s Pizza—no company or franchise is too big or too powerful to skirt New York City’s labor laws. We thank Commissioner Mayuga for her leadership and her department’s tireless efforts to ensure the Fair Workweek Law is upheld.”
“It is not surprising that Amazon has been found to have violated New York City’s paid safe and sick leave law,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, RWDSU. “There are no bounds to the greed of one of the richest companies in the history of the planet. Preventing the most marginalized of our workforce from accessing paid sick leave — those who work part time and short-term workers — demonstrates Amazon’s distorted values. If it were not for the tireless work of the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP), this outrageous behavior would go unnoticed and unpunished. We thank DCWP Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga and all her committed staff for their work holding companies accountable to our laws.”
“The Grocery Worker Retention Act was passed to ensure that our City’s most essential workers have protections in place to protect their livelihoods,” said John R. Durso, President of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW. “The settlement with Farm Country, which directly compensates the hardworking people who were inexcusably displaced by no fault of their own due to a simple change in ownership of the grocery store, highlights that this vital piece of law is making a difference for those who often are left behind in these situations. We applaud the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection for their vigilance in enforcing the Grocery Worker Retention Act and the Department’s advocacy for those who are employed at grocery stores across New York City.”
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.
Under NYC’s Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law, 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 or take other safety measures if the employee or a family member may be the victim of any act or threat of domestic violence or unwanted sexual contact, stalking, or human trafficking. Employers and employees can visit nyc.gov/workers or call 311 (212-NEW-YORK outside NYC) for more information about the NYC Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law, including the required Notice of Employee Rights in multiple languages, one-page overviews for employers and employees, and to file a complaint.
Under the Grocery Worker Retention Act, new grocery store owners in New York City must retain employees of the previous owner for a 90-day transitional period following a change in control or ownership of the store. Employers and employees can visit nyc.gov/workers or call 311 (212-NEW-YORK outside NYC) for more information about New York City’s Grocery Worker Retention Act.
Since 2014, DCWP has received more than 5,900 complaints about potential workplace violations of all of the laws it enforces, closed more than 2,800 investigations, and secured more than $51 million in restitution and civil penalties for more than 68,000 workers across all workplace cases.
DCWP’s cases were handled by Investigator Jimmy Kristrom, Investigator Ryan McGuire, Investigator Rebecca Kwan, Investigator Christopher Dunn, Supervising Investigator Juana Abreu, Supervising Investigator Alex Moran, Supervising Investigator Peter Donna, Director of Investigations Margot Finkel, Staff Counsel Maria Jennings, Staff Counsel Marlee Belford, Staff Counsel Olivia Wade, Staff Counsel Gabo Gutierrez, Senior Enforcement Counsel Caroline Friedman, Senior Enforcement Counsel John De Vito, Litigation Director Emily Hoffman, Data Scientist Amanda Gallear, Senior Data Scientist David Rauch, Director of Data Science Elizabeth Major, Labor Economist Mike Papadopoulos, and Executive Director of Policy and Analytics Sam Krinsky 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.
Michael Lanza / Stephany Vasquez Sanchez
Department of Consumer and Worker Protection