A New York City-based restaurant has been forced to lay off more than 50 workers for their clothing choices after it received a letter from the federal government.
The letter says the garment workers are too conservative for a company that prides itself on its “no frills” approach to its apparel.
“We’ve seen the need for this sort of shift in policy in our industry,” said David Pomeranz, the company’s CEO.
The workers at the El Rey de Siete restaurant in Brooklyn, New York, are expected to be laid off on Thursday.
The New York Department of Labor says it has received “a number of complaints” about the company, including about the clothing the workers wear.
“This has been a very challenging day for all of us, especially our team of seamstresses,” Pomerantz said.
“They’re a small team of six, and we have been dealing with a very demanding workload and very demanding clients.”
The workers were sent a letter on February 26 from the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division, the agency that investigates wage theft.
The Labor Department says it will investigate and file a complaint with the Department of Justice.
The Wage and Hire Division is also investigating the restaurant’s management.
“I know we all have our opinions on the clothing we wear, and I don’t think it’s appropriate for us to say what the clothing should be,” Pomranz said.
The company was founded in 2009 and has been running in the neighborhood of $5.50 an hour.
The employees have been paid $30 an hour, but Pomerzan says he will consider the wage hike if they receive an additional $100 an hour next week.