FreshDirect under fire for punishing employees who stayed home during snowstorm

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For the last few years, the east coast has been plagued with record breaking levels of snow, but it looks like FreshDirect has no compassion for its employees who have been caught out in these storms.

According to the NY Daily News, on Monday, the union representing more than 900 FreshDirect workers is planning to file a suit against the company for firing and disciplining employees who couldn’t show up to work — during what could have arguably been considered snow days.

The conflict originates back to a storm that hit New York City on Jan. 4, 2014.

According to the Daily News

At the time, Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo declared a state of emergency and said only essential service workers should be on the roads. At FreshDirect, workers were expected to show up despite the weather.

But many employees could not make it in. According to UFCW Local 2013, which represents the workers, 75 employees received written warnings, two were suspended and one was discharged because of their absences.

Those penalized included Juan Altreche, 44, a depot driver earning $20.50 an hour.

“I had slipped trying to take the subway to work,” Altreche recalled. “I messed up my back a little bit, and I said, ‘You know what? I’m going back home. This is ridiculous.’ The next day they gave me the write-up.”

That move put Altreche — who has worked for the company for 11 years — one step closer to termination.

Last June, an arbitrator ruled that FreshDirect should reverse the disciplinary actions. Instead of heeding this verdict, they went to federal court on Dec. 30 to contest the ruling.

“That’s denying them justice under the terms agreed to under the collective bargaining agreement,” said union president Louis Mark Carotenuto. “They shouldn’t use tactics like this to delay justice for the workers.”

Recently, Altreche had to take a day off for a family emergency and was shocked when the company went as far as to suspend him for a week without pay. Adding that disciplinary action to the one from last year means that if he misses even a single day of work again, he’s out of a job.

Grio fam, what do you think of how this company is treating its employees? Is this business as usual or cause for a class action?