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A federal judge orders the McDonald’s owner at I-95 Darien plaza to rehire laid off workers

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Donald Trung Quoc Don / Wikimedia Commons
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A federal labor relations judge has ordered the owner of a McDonald’s franchise at the I-95 service plaza in Darien to rehire employees laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic. The case was prompted by a complaint filed in June 2020 by SEIU Local 32-BJ against Michell Enterprises.

The complaint was filed to the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of four longtime employees who were laid off at the beginning of the pandemic. When food service improved, the four workers were not rehired unlike the rest of the employees.

A lawyer representing Michell could not be reached for comment. Witnesses for Michell testified the reasons for not rehiring the employees were legitimate business concerns in the pandemic.

Judge Donna Dawson ruled in her 47-page decision that she does not doubt the effects of the pandemic impacted the business operations. However, she said Michell “has not been entirely transparent on the extent of the impact and as to how it resulted in the discriminates to be treated differently.”

Dawson said the employees had not been rehired in retaliation for their labor organizing activities. She ordered Michell to reinstate the employees to be rehired within 14 days.

Mario Franco, one of the McDonald’s workers, said in a prepared statement, “after all the struggles we’ve gone through, I’m so glad that the justice we’ve always desired has finally started to arrive, and I believe together we can make this New Year the one where we win new union membership for all.”

Clare is a former news fellow with WSHU Public Radio.