By Renee Lewis / Al Jazeera America / Dec. 12, 2013
All 25 workers whose employment with a Domino’s pizzeria in New York City ended suddenly Saturday night after a wage dispute with store management will be re-hired, the state’s Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced Thursday.
They will be reinstated by Sunday at the latest under an agreement with management, Schneiderman said in a news release.
“Because of this agreement, 25 workers will be back to work in time for the holidays,” Schneiderman said.
“New York’s labor laws exist to ensure the protection and fair treatment of employees in the workplace,” he said. “My office will take swift action where there is any indication that an employer may have retaliated against workers for complaining about illegal labor conditions.”
The case was reported to the attorney general’s office by New York City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez and New York Communities for Change, an advocacy group. Under state law, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who have made good-faith complaints regarding violations of New York labor law.
In response to a request for comment, Domino’s headquarters said in an email to Al Jazeera that “this took place at an independently-owned and -operated franchise. Therefore, we cannot comment on the allegations nor what followed.” A supervisor reached by phone at the New York franchise said he had no comment.
Under New York law, tipped workers can be paid less than minimum wage – in this case, the workers said they made less than $6 an hour. The state’s minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, and will rise to $8 on Dec. 31.
To ensure no workers are taken advantage of, state and federal laws limit the amount of time “tipped” wage workers can perform untipped work – such as washing dishes.
Jose Sanchez, one of the reinstated Domino’s employees, said in the news release, “We are overjoyed by the attorney general’s fight on our behalf … This was never just about us alone – it was about the 84 percent of NYC fast-food workers who, like us, are victims of wage theft.”
Sanchez said that they would continue to work toward a $15 an hour minimum wage and the right to unionize, and that “we know the community has our back.”
Rodriguez, the city council member, who had picketed the Washington Heights pizzeria with the ousted workers, called their reinstatement a “victory” that is “symbolic for the low wage worker movement across the country.”