FINANCIAL DISTRICT, Manhattan (PIX11) — New York City may soon be cracking down on fast food restaurants accused of abusing their workers with unfair and unsafe scheduling practices.
“Our managers were breaking the very laws meant to protect us,” Paloma Nunez told NYC Council members gathered for a hearing Monday.
She was one of several fast food workers employed by Chipotle who told stories about inconsistent scheduling, retaliation for turning down shifts due to child care issues, and short staffing to the point of safety concerns.
“You’re forced to find shortcuts, and that means you are short cutting food safety, especially in positions like the grill,” Nunez said.
These types of scheduling practices could be considered in violation of New York’s fair workweek laws, which gives particular protections to the city’s 67,000 fast food workers. The law states restaurants, such as Chipotle or McDonald’s, must give employees consistent schedules — with any changes made clear two weeks in advance. Restaurants are also not allowed to cut hours without just cause.
Ashley Zavala is a Chipotle service manager who told the Council her company does not appear to be taking the law seriously.
“I did not get any training on what the Fair Workweek law [is,]” she said.
Earlier this year, Chipotle agreed to pay a $20 million fine because of its scheduling practices, but City Council members may soon double fines for restaurants failing to comply with fair workweek laws.
Repeat offenders may be forced to put on mandatory workplace training— and the worst violators may even be at risk of getting their licenses suspended.
However, the New York State Restaurant Association testified that potentially doubling fines and threatening licenses is an overreaction to a few bad actors. They encouraged the City Council to work with quick service locations to improve training and education.
PIX11 reached out directly to Chipotle for comment, but did not hear back.