SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) — Known for its artisan pastries and sandwiches, San Francisco-based La Boulange is under the microscope as employees claim that the company has violated the city’s ordinance mandating health coverage.
La Boulange has 12 stores within San Francisco city limits. San Francisco requires companies with more than 20 employees worldwide, to provide health benefits to anyone who works eight hours or more a week and have been with the company for 90 days.
But workers who have been with the company for years said they have never been offered coverage.
“The company paints an image of caring about its customers, its employees and caring about the community,” said one former store manager who did not want to be identified. “I think not being very upfront about the health care situation would upset people.”
And indeed it has. One current employee complained that workers are upset about how they are treated by the company.
The city agency charged with enforcing the Health Care Security Ordinance showed no record of the company until Monday when CBS 5 called. The company promptly submitted the required form for last year.
In it, La Boulange claims to have put hundreds of thousands of dollars in a third-party account. However, the document also shows that the company did not pay any of that to reimburse employees.
Under the law, companies may recoup unused funds after two years time which some city officials say give them little reason to make employees aware of the funds that are rightfully available to them.
Donna Levitt with San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement said her department takes these sorts of claims seriously and plans to launch an investigation into La Boulange.
“We will keep the claimants identity confidential and we will remedy the situation,” said Levitt. “We will make sure the employer comes into compliance with the law.”
La Boulange declined an on-camera interview. But in a statement, the bakery said that they “abide by all San Francisco laws” including the health care ordinance. They added there has been “and awareness gap” and that they plan to notify employees of their benefits and retrain staff.
Starbucks, which recently paid $100 million for La Boulange, plans to extend full benefits to employees who come on board as a result of the acquisition once the deal has been finalized.
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