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Ruth’s Chris Steak House pays the largest penalty to date for violating Philly’s Fair Workweek law

Philadelphia Inquirer 11/22/2022 Juliana Feliciano Reyes, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Pedestrians outside Ruth's Chris Steak House in Center City on Nov. 17, 2022. © Yong Kim / Staff Photographer/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS Pedestrians outside Ruth's Chris Steak House in Center City on Nov. 17, 2022.

Ruth’s Chris Steak House broke Philadelphia’s Fair Workweek law and had to pay workers $45,500, the city’s Department of Labor said. It’s the highest penalty under the law to date.

The high-end restaurant in Center City, one of the city’s longest-running steak houses, broke the law by not giving workers two weeks advance notice of their schedules and not providing workers with a “good faith estimate” of how many hours they’d work in a 90-day period, said Candace Chewning, director of the Department of Labor’s Office of Worker Protections, in an interview.

The Fair Workweek law also requires employers to offer newly available hours to existing employees, instead of hiring new workers. Ruth’s Chris failed to do so.

Roughly 50 workers got paid because of the violation. Nearly 30 workers got $1,050 each.

Ruth’s Hospitality Group, which operates the chain, did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did the general manager at the Center City Ruth’s Chris location.

Retail and fast-food workers: These are your rights under Philadelphia’s Fair Workweek law

A line cook filed the complaint against the restaurant in August 2021. The allegations took 16 months to investigate and resolve. The line cook, a 22-year-old man who no longer works at the restaurant, had helped to write the Fair Workweek law and organized with the Coalition to Respect Every Worker (CREW) to make the Department of Labor a permanent city office. He spoke to The Inquirer on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to jeopardize his new job.

Fair Workweek, which mandates consistent schedules for retail, fast-food, and hotel workers, went into effect in April 2020. It’s one of several worker-protection laws on the books in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia employers that have broken the law include Target, Rite Aid, and Del Frisco’s. Target had to pay workers $22,000 in 2021, Rite Aid paid workers $2,200 in January, and Del Frisco’s paid $24,500 this summer.

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