McDonald's franchisee settles claim it illegally fired employee who blew whistle on gas leak

By Bryan Cohen | Jun 19, 2014

NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a settlement on Wednesday with a McDonald's franchisee to resolve allegations that an employee was illegally fired at its Lyons location.

Warrenone Inc., a franchisee operating four McDonald's restaurants in Wayne and Monroe counties, allegedly violated New York Labor Law by firing an employee who reported a gas leak. On April 8, 2013, a part-time, minimum-wage employee of the restaurant made multiple efforts to report a gas leak, and when supervisors did not address the situation, he reported the leak to the Lyons Fire Department. Responding firefighters and local law enforcement confirmed there was a gas leak and the store was temporarily closed to the public that night.

While the firefighters were examining the leak, two supervisors allegedly told the employee he was fired.

"It's outrageous that an employee would be terminated for contacting the local authorities about a serious safety risk," Schneiderman said. "He should be thanked, not fired. Workers who try to protect the public and their fellow employees deserve protection, and the state should have their back."

New York Labor Law forbids employees from retaliating against an employee for reporting to a supervisor or the authorities when an employer violates a law that puts the public health and safety in substantial danger.

Under the terms of the settlement, Warrenone will pay $10,000 in restitution, which constitutes approximately one and a half years' worth of pay. The company also agreed to create and implement procedures for complaints and report quarterly to Schneiderman's office about health and safety complaints.

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