December 19, 2019
Starbucks to create $150,000 restitution fund for all New York City employees whose Paid Safe and Sick Leave rights they violated and promote public education about the Law
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio, Department of Consumer and Worker Protection Commissioner Lorelei Salas and New York State Attorney General Letitia James today announced a settlement with Starbucks, the largest coffee retailer in the world, to resolve violations of the New York City Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law.
A lengthy joint investigation that included multiple subpoenas, review of records, and interviews with Starbucks workers found that Starbucks had an illegal sick leave policy that required employees to find a substitute when they used sick leave and that if an employee failed to find that substitute, it could result in “corrective action, up to and including termination of employment.” During the investigation, Starbucks corrected its policy and is now compliant with the Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law. The settlement requires Starbucks to pay restitution to current and former employees who were impacted by its illegal sick leave policy, to post an educational poster about Paid Safe and Sick Leave in all New York City stores, to notify all current New York City employees that they are covered by the City’s Law and are not required to find a replacement worker to use sick leave, and to submit a compliance report.
“In New York City, no corporation is above the law,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “In partnership with Attorney General James, the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection found widespread violations of our Paid Safe and Sick Leave law, and thanks to their investigation, workers will now be able enjoy the rights they are entitled to and get the restitution they are owed.”
“It is frustrating that a major corporation like Starbucks with over 8,000 employees in New York City had an illegal sick leave policy to begin with,” said DCWP Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “But we appreciate that they corrected the policy, have agreed to compensate the employers who were negatively affected, and will be taking additional steps to help ensure all New Yorkers know about their rights. New York is committed to protecting workers and we want this case to be a message to all employers: no one is above the law. We will pursue any employer that violates their workers’ rights.”
“Workers in New York City are entitled to paid sick leave. This settlement should serve as a notice to all employers in New York City that we will always prioritize the rights of workers,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “I am confident in the steps that Starbucks has taken to correct their actions, and I thank the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection for their partnership on this important issue.”
Under the settlement, Starbucks must:
Under New York City’s Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law, employers with five or more employees who work more than 80 hours per calendar year in New York City must provide paid safe and sick leave to employees. Employers with fewer than five employees must provide unpaid safe and sick leave. All covered employers are required to provide their employees with the Notice of Employee of Rights that includes information in English and, if available on the DCWP website, the employee’s primary language. Employers must provide the notice on the first day of an employee’s employment. Employers must have a written sick leave policy that meets or exceeds the requirements of the Law.
Safe and sick leave is accrued at a rate of one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours per calendar year, and begins on the employee’s first day of employment. Employees can begin using accrued leave 120 days after their first day of work. For employers who do not frontload safe and sick leave on the first day of a new calendar year, employees must be able to carry over up to 40 hours of unused safe and sick leave from one calendar year to the new calendar year.
If the need to use sick leave is foreseeable, employers can require up to seven days advance notice to use safe or sick leave. If the need is unforeseeable, employers may require notice as soon as practicable. Employers can require reasonable documentation for more than three consecutive workdays as safe or sick leave but it is illegal to require that documentation specify the reason for using safe or sick leave. Employers may not engage in or threaten retaliation against employees, which includes firing and any act that punishes an employee for or is likely to deter an employee from exercising their rights under the Law.
Employers and employees can visit nyc.gov/workers or call 311 (212-NEW-YORK outside NYC) for more information, including the required Notice of Employee Rights , one-page overviews for employers and employees, and the complaint form. DCWP also developed tools to help employers keep track of employees’ hours worked and safe and sick leave used, as well as model forms for verification of authorized safe and sick time used, safe and sick time.
Since the law went into effect, DCWP has received more than 2040 complaints about Paid Safe and Sick Leave, closed more than 1780 investigations, and obtained resolutions requiring more than $11,490,000 combined fines and restitution for more than 35,300 workers.
“I commend Mayor de Blasio, DCWP Commissioner Salas and Attorney General James on today’s announcement to ensure New York workers and families are treated just and equitably,” said Congressman Adriano Espaillat. “It remains critical that corporations implement policies that adhere to the law and implement policies that guarantee individuals have adequate time to care for themselves and their families without penalty.”
“As Chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor, I am pleased that there are tangible consequences for violations to the City’s Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law,” said Councilman I. Daneek Miller. “We have worked hard in the Council for worker protections, and today’s announcement will no doubt serve to deter similar violations and educate workers and the public about the law. As always, our hope going forward is that through education and outreach efforts management understands the rules of engagement, and treat workers with dignity and respect.”