Domino’s Hires Back 25 Workers Fired During Wage Dispute

Last week, a Domino’s Pizza franchisee in New York City terminated the employment of 25 workers who had filed complaints about being underpaid. That’s kind of against the law in New York, and so after receiving a little talking-to from the state Attorney General, the franchisee has agreed to re-hire the previously dismissed employees.

According to the Assurance of Discontinuance document [PDF] filed in the matter the office of AG Eric T. Schneiderman began investigating this franchisee back in October, issuing subpoenas to see if the company had been in violation of state and federal labor laws.

Some employees who work for this franchisee claim they are being paid like they were tipped employees (i.e., that they would be deriving a majority of their income from tips) when in fact they were spending much of their time doing work for which they would not receive tips, like working in the kitchen.

As we’ve explained before, employers are allowed to pay tipped workers below minimum wage, so long as the employees receive enough tips to make up the difference. In New York, the minimum wage for a tipped delivery driver is $5.65/hour, and there are statutory limits put on the number of hours a tipped employee can do work for which he or she will not receive a tip.

New York law prohibits employers from firing workers who make good-faith complaints — whether it’s to the employer or to a government agency — that they may be receiving wages that violate state and federal labor laws.

The Schneiderman’s office is still investigating whether the Domino’s franchisee is underpaying his drivers or forcing them to do too much untipped work, but both the franchisee has entered into the above-linked Assurance agreement that will get the dismissed employees back to work by Sunday, Dec. 15 at the latest, and protect them against any retaliation.

“Because of this agreement, 25 workers will be back to work in time for the holidays,” said Schneiderman in a statement. “New York’s labor laws exist to ensure the protection and fair treatment of employees in the workplace. 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.”

One of the reinstated employees says he and his fellow drivers are “excited to be able to return to work at a legal wage. This was never just about us alone — it was about the 84% of NYC fast-food workers who, like us, are victims of wage theft in our city.”