BRASILIA – A Regional Labor Office of the 1st Region filed a collective civil action against the Fogo de Chão steakhouse chain and asks for compensation of at least R $ 70 million for collective pain and suffering. The company is accused of laying off 690 employees without paying severance pay amid the new coronavirus pandemic.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office asked for the company to be sentenced to at least R $ 70 million for collective moral damages.
Photo: Fogo de Chão / Press Release / Estadão
The company alleged the occurrence of the so-called “fact of the prince”, when the business is forced to close due to an act of the municipal, state or federal authority. Encouraged by a speech by President Jair Bolsonaro at the end of March, some companies are turning to this article in the labor law to make mass layoffs and play the bill for governors and mayors, claiming that the decrees of social isolation fit the hypothesis of “fact of the prince”.
Technicians from the government itself, however, find it difficult to apply this theory. O minister of Superior Labor Court (TST) Alexandre Agra Belmont also assessed last week that the device is inapplicable. “It was not he (government) that caused it. The cause was the virus,” he said.
In action, Labor Prosecutor Viviann Brito Mattos asks that the 690 dismissed employees across Brazil be readmitted, or who have the severance pay paid plus a fine and indemnity equivalent to four times the amount of the worker’s compensation.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office also asks that the company be sentenced to at least R $ 70 million for collective moral damages.
Last week, the MPT had launched a civil investigation to investigate the signs of collective injury to the social rights guaranteed by the Constitution to workers.
A letter sent to the state government of Rio de Janeiro says that the Ground fire (which since 2018 belongs to the American investment fund Rhône Capital, responsible for managing billions in assets) would deposit the vacation balance in the employees’ account, the additional one-third and the 13th proportional in up to 10 days. There was no proof of payments.
In addition, some employees received part of the severance pay, which include notice and a 40% fine on FGTS, while others received no installments. Another irregularity found is that there was no intervention by the union of the category, as is necessary in cases of collective dismissal.
Last week, Fogo de Chão had reported a lower number of layoffs (439) and said it paid the layoffs “what was due to the proportional 13th salary and vacation, in addition to 20% of the FGTS fine, following the rules of the article 486 of the CLT “. Sought today about the representation of the Public Ministry of Labor, the company did not manifest itself until the publication of this text.
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