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New York City fast food workers are now being offered new job protection.
Effective July 4, the new Just Cause law will make it impossible for fast food employers to lay off or lay off workers, or reduce their hours by more than 15 percent without due to only or a legitimate economic reason. The new protections were announced on July 2 by the Consumer and Worker Protection Department (DCWP) Acting Commissioner Sandra Abele.
“For a long time, fast food workers – a predominantly minority and female workforce – have been treated as if they were available and yet they have been there for us on the front lines throughout the pandemic,” Abeles said. “These workers deserve better and no worker should be out of work for unjust reasons – ever. This vital law will bring additional stability to the lives of these low-wage workers and ensure that they cannot be laid off.
Under the new law of fair reason, fast food employers should give workers who have passed the probationary period a chance to improve and may lay off lower-performing workers after giving them warnings multiple disciplinary in a year or for misconduct. Employers may not lay off workers except for economic reasons, and layoffs should be made in reverse order of seniority, with longer-term workers laid off. Any employee who is laid off, laid off, or receives a reduction in hours should receive a written explanation of why employers should also prioritize outgoing or current employees to work new shifts, with employers advertising open shifts either by text / email or by posters in the restaurant. Employers at these institutions can only hire new employees if no outgoing or current NYC employees accept the shifts within the posted deadline.
Once in effect, workers can immediately enforce their new rights in court through a private right of action, and the DCWP will begin enforcing the laws on September 2nd. Starting in January 2022, workers can seek redress of their grievances through a binding arbitration DCWP.
“The new Just Cause provision means a major boost to the protection that tens of thousands of NYC fast food workers were enjoying under local Labor Week Act,” said Maria Figueroa, Director of Labor Research and Policy at the University Workers’ Institute Cornell – ILR School. “This new provision not only protects workers from wrongful dismissal, but also empowers them to exercise their rights in the workplace without fear of retaliation. The adoption and implementation of Just Cause is an example of effective local-level policy-making to achieve worker protection. The hope is that additional cities across the country will repeat this approach to improve labor standards in the fast food industry. “
Under the Labor Week Fair Act, New York City fast food employers are required to provide employees with regular, predictable general schedules, two weeks advance notice of their work schedules covering specific dates, premium payment between $ 10 – $ 75 for schedule changes and the opportunity to work new shifts before hiring new workers. Employers may not assign employees for morning or night shifts without the written consent of employees and must pay employees a $ 100 premium to work the shift. Employers must also obtain written consent from the employee if they add any time to their working hours with less than two weeks notice and cannot penalize them for refusing work. By law, retail employers must also give employees advanced working-hours notice and may not assign workers to on-call shifts or change workers’ schedules with inadequate notice.
“For years, countless workers across the city have faced the constant threat of being fired for arbitrary or unreasonable reasons,” said Jose Lopez, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York. “We hear all the time from the workers, whose bosses, overnight and for no good reason, have ruined their livelihood and left their family in a state of despair. The City Fair Road Act will require employers to follow a set of fair rules when it comes to layoffs and reduced hours – exactly what all workers deserve in their jobs. “
All fast food employers must post the new NYC Fast Food Worker Rights Notice in English and any language that is the primary language of at least five percent of workers if available on the DCWP website. To access the notice, employees and employers can visit nyc.gov/workers or call 311 (212-NEW-YORK outside NYC).