Letter grades are seen in restaurant windows, letting diners know just how clean the establishment is, but New Haven is considering using them to show how small businesses are treating their employees.
Officials in New Haven said there have been issues regarding wage theft in the past, and some restaurants and businesses have not been paying employees what they should.
At the Tikkaway Grill, Gopi Nair said he actually starts his staff off above minimum wage, but unfortunately, some businesses don’t even pay what they’re supposed to.
"What goes around comes around. If the staff is not happy, they don't do a good job and if they don't do a great job, your customers will feel it and it trickles down,” Nair said.
The letter grade idea is being floated around, and is a way to protect workers.
"We as a city do not stand for wage theft. It’s illegal and goes after our community residents,” said New Haven’s Legislative Liaison Joe Rodriguez.
Just last week, Rodriguez said the city had a workshop with the Board of Alders and immigration rights advocates to discuss wage theft.
"It will perhaps force businesses, who have violated, to take positive steps because if we decide to have an ‘F’ grade in front of your business, you would perhaps want to take positive steps to increase that grade,” Rodriguez said.
He added that the letter grades are just something New Haven could do on the local level.
"I know the state through the Department of Labor has increased penalties and fines in the past. We need to continue to ensure that those penalties are brought forth when businesses violate, and we also need to go after repeat offenders,” Rodriguez said.
"I'm a big advocate of pushing the envelope. We have to up our game. If our consumer is more educated, we are forced to do a better job and a better job, means better product,” Nair said.
City officials said they will continue to meet with advocates, along with small businesses as it moves forward.
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