Starbucks violated New York City's paid sick leave law by making ailing workers find substitutes or face possible discipline or even firing, officials said Thursday in announcing a settlement with the coffee chain.
The company has changed its policy and agreed to pay over $150,000 in restitution to employees, Mayor Bill de Blasio and state Attorney General Letitia James said.
“In New York City, no corporation is above the law,” de Blasio, a Democrat, said in a statement.
Under city law, employers with over four workers generally have to provide paid sick time; the amount depends how much an employee works. Companies can require workers to give some notice but can't threaten punishment for using the time.
Starbucks has over 8,000 employees in New York City, and 23 workers were involved in the state and city investigation into its sick leave policy, officials said.
Those 23 will share in $26,000 in restitution; other employees who were forced to find replacements or disciplined for failing to do so can now submit claims.
New York City's paid sick leave law took effect in 2014. The city says it has since obtained more than $11 million in fines and restitution for more than 35,000 workers.