Durham fast-food workers walk out on the job, demand pay during quarantine

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Dozens of fast-food employees who work at Freddy’s Frozen Custard off of Highway 15-501 walked out on the job on Friday afternoon.

The workers held a rally outside the restaurant demanding hazard pay, thorough cleaning of the fast-food restaurant, and to be compensated while being in quarantine.

“We’re demanding at least $15 an hour,” said employee Ieisha Francis. “We’ve had guests come in without masks. We take this risk every day for them, what risk are they going to take for us?”

Last month, a dozen of these employees were forced to go into quarantine for two weeks after an employee at Freddy’s restaurant contracted COVID-19. The workers did not get paid for the time they did not work.

“With not being paid, I had to scale back some of my bills that I couldn’t pay,” said Precious Cole, an employee of Freddy’s. “It just really inconvenienced a lot of people not having a paycheck for two weeks.”

CBS 17 went to attorney Daniel Meier for answers on if employers in North Carolina are required to pay employees for sick time.

“They’re not, and that’s the frustrating thing,” Meier said.

While the Families First Coronavirus Response Act does require some employers pay their workers up to two weeks of sick leave, there are quite a few exemptions in this law.

For instance, it only applies to certain employers with 500 or fewer employees.

Meier said that’s why large fast-food chain workers are not protected under this law.

“So, there’s a pressure on them to come to work when they really shouldn’t because they can’t just stay home and get nothing,” Meier said.

Workers who went on strike on Friday told CBS 17 they are hoping this strike will lead to a change in the law.

“I believe that we’re going to make a change finally,” Cole said. “We just want respect and we want the money that’s owed (to) us.”

CBS 17 reached out to Freddy’s to find out if they do plan to pay these employees for the two weeks of quarantine but has not yet heard back.

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