- The New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) is suing Chipotle Mexican Grill for multiple violations of the New York City Fair Workweek Law, which is designed to ensure predictable schedules and pay for workers in the fast food and retail industries.
- Chipotle allegedly "violated nearly every aspect" of the law, according to a City news release, including failures to provide accurate and timely schedules and schedule estimates, get consent and pay premiums for last-minute schedule changes and so-called "clopening" shifts and to offer newly available shifts to current employees. DCWP said it has received complaints from more than 30 workers at five Brooklyn Chipotle locations.
- DCWP is seeking at least $1 million in restitution for the affected employees, along with civil penalties and future compliance with the law. DCWP has also launched an investigation into 11 Manhattan Chipotle locations for similar alleged violations. According to a CNBC report, Chipotle's stock dropped following the lawsuit announcement.
Chipotle has been in the news a lot lately, for both good and bad reasons. New performance-based bonus programs enable hourly workers to earn up to one extra week's pay per quarter or an extra month's pay annually. On the flip side, in addition to the NYC lawsuit, the restaurant chain has also faced allegations that it jeopardized jobseekers' privacy and was sanctioned by the National Labor Relations Board for having an outdated social media policy.
Even extremely innovative, worker-friendly programs are of little use if basic compliance efforts fall short. Wage and hour issues are very common and can be particularly problematic because they tend to affect large numbers of workers. Experts advise employers to address timekeeping issues, ensure senior management is on board and consult with mid-level and frontline managers. Many managers simply don't know the details of good timekeeping practices, or how important those efforts are.
It's also important to stay on top of changes to the minimum wage and overtime rules, at both the federal and local levels. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Labor released a proposed rule that would clarify and update the regular rate requirements necessary for calculating proper overtime pay. The proposed rule includes clarification about whether employers may exclude reimbursed expenses, payments for unused leave and other forms of pay from their regular rate of pay calculations.