NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Employees at a New York City McDonald's will receive $1 million in restitutions after the city found their boss had violated workplace laws.
George Michell owns seven McDonald's locations in Brooklyn and was ordered to pay $1 million to 511 employees who had their rights violated as workers.
"Fast food workers deserve to have our fair scheduling rights, that we organized with the union to win, respected," said Tommy Nicolas, a worker at one of Michell McDonald's franchise locations. "Unpredictable schedules on short notice hurts not only us but our families who depend on us."
The Department of Consumer and Worker Protections opened a second investigation into Michell after issuing multiple violations.
The DCWP initially reached a settlement with Michell in 2019 when he was required to pay thousands of dollars to 92 employees at his store on Atlantic Avenue in Prospect Heights.
When the department received new complaints from the same location they opened a second investigation and expanded their search to all seven McDonald's locations.
The second investigation found that Michell violated the Fair Workweek Law by requiring employees to work "clopening" shifts without consent, failing to pay those employees $100 premiums, and firing two employees who exercised their rights under the law.
Michell will also pay those former employees $23,500 each as part of the settlement.
The investigation also found Michell violated the NYC Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law by prohibiting employees from using paid sick leave.
"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."
Under the Fair Workweek Law, fast food employers must give workers regular schedules 14 days in advance that are consistent. Premium pay is required for schedule changes and employers have the right to deny working extra hours. The employer must also offer newly available shifts to current employees before hiring anyone new.
Employers cannot schedule "clopening" shifts unless the employee agrees in writing and is paid a $100 premium to work the shift.
"These brave McDonald's franchise workers did that at great risk," 32BJ SEIU President Kyle Bragg said. "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. 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 who think their rights have been violated can file a complaint online or call 311. Complaints can be filed anonymously and it's illegal for employers to retaliate against employees for filing complaints.
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