Friendly’s restaurants abruptly closed 14 of their Upstate New York locations this past weekend along with nine more across the Northeast. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is demanding answers after several former workers have claimed they were not given notice they were being let go.
Schumer wants the matter investigated and said labor laws like the WARN Act forces corporations like Friendly’s to warn employees of imminent layoffs and to give some notice.
“What went down with these restaurants is anything but ‘Friendly’ to their workers, to so many upstate workers and we have to get to the bottom of it,” said Schumer. “So today I’m demanding answers from the Federal Department of Labor. I have just sent a later to Secretary of Labor Acosta asking to investigate exactly what happened here.”
Schumer said he’s prepared to introduce new legislation for service workers if the Department of Labor determined Friendly’s acted in a legal manner.
“Obviously in a free market system they have a right to close stores. They just got to do it in a way that’s compliant with the law and compliant with treating their employees with a degree of honor and dignity,” he said.
Friendly’s hasn’t shared how many worked at each restaurant, but Schumer says it’s estimated each had 30-60 employees.
“If Friendly’s violated the law, we want DOL to throw the book at them,” Schumer said. “If on the other hand there were gaps in the law, we should close them because this isn’t just about Friendly’s. It’s about fairness to all workers.”
Friendly's has closed restaurants in Hamburg, Amherst, Lancaster and Jamestown. The company said the hundreds of affected employees were informed personally of the closings and are being offered job opportunities at other locations or severance payments.
“Workers across upstate arrived to work and were told to close the store for good. No warning, no notice,” Schumer said. “That is inhumane, that is cruel, and it shows that some of these corporations just don’t care about their workers. And it could be any of us that were in that situation.”