WORKERS' UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICE CHARGE AGAINST GOODNESS GARDENS INC. REACHES SETTLEMENT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: John Marsella 585-325-3050 ext. 2002
Kingston, New York – The National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB"), Goodness Gardens Inc., and the Worker Justice Center of New York ("WJCNY") on behalf of two former Goodness Gardens employees have reached a settlement agreement in the amount of $62,283 resolving The Matter of Goodness Gardens Inc., Board Case No.: 02-CA-210786. In its filing with the New York, NY Regional Office of the NLRB, former employees charged Goodness Gardens with interfering, restraining, and coercing employees in the exercise of their rights guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act.
The charge claims Goodness Gardens terminated, disciplined, and retaliated against employees who participated in protected concerted activities to try to improve their working conditions and address job-related problems. When an employee asked Goodness Gardens for a day off to accompany her child during dental surgery, she was told to choose between her child and her job. When she questioned the fairness of the denial she was terminated on the spot. Coworkers heard of the termination and frustrations with Goodness Gardens’ management, unfair scheduling practices, and routine rejections of leave requests reached a tipping point. The workforce decided to engage in an impromptu strike. Each employee lawfully stopped their work to demand answers from management. They humbly asked for fair working conditions and for their voices to be heard. Following lengthy discussions and numerous promises from management, employees returned to work feeling optimistic. That feeling was short-lived and, soon after, Goodness Gardens terminated the employees who were most active in the concerted activity.
This filing highlights issues workers face across New York every day when they find themselves torn between demands of inflexible work environments and personal and familial needs. The resolution of this case shows that intimidation and retaliation are not lawful management tactics. Employees have the right to demand fair working conditions and employers who violate these rights will be held accountable. In addition to securing $62,283 for the lost wages and benefits of the terminated employees that brought forth the charge, the settlement requires Goodness Gardens to post notices in English and Spanish that clearly state the rights of employees and the promise that Goodness Gardens will not interfere with or retaliate against workers for exercising those rights.
“This settlement agreement reached between the parties reaffirms that the National Labor Relations Act gives employees the right to act together to demand improvement of their working conditions and address job-related problems. The resolution of this charge shows that intimidation and retaliation are patently unacceptable and employers will be held accountable for violating the law,” said John Marsella, Staff Attorney at WJCNY, who served as the attorney of record for the Plaintiffs with the assistance of WJCNY Worker Rights Advocate, Cristian Ávila.
WJCNY is a non-profit organization that pursues justice for those denied human rights with a focus on agricultural and other low wage workers, through legal representation, community empowerment and advocacy for institutional change.