De Blasio signs bill sponsored by Lander to protect fast food workers

Mayor de Blasio signed two pieces of legislation that will protect New York City fast food workers from being fired without just cause.

“A strong, fair recovery starts with protecting working people,” said de Blasio. “These bills will provide crucial job stability and protections for fast food workers on the front lines.”

One of the bills was sponsored by Councilmember Brad Lander, who represents Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Columbia Waterfront, Gowanus, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Borough Park and Kensington.

“Fast food workers have been on the front lines of this pandemic, serving their neighbors, working in tight quarters, taking on new responsibilities for sanitizing, and yet often unable to speak up about health and safety issues for fear of losing their jobs,” said Lander. “And fast-food workers have been on the front lines of the fight for justice in the workplace as well, from the Fight for $15, to paid sick days, to fair scheduling, transforming low-wage, unstable jobs into dignified work people can rely on.”

In Lander’s bill, after an initial probation period of 30 days, fast food employers may not discharge an employee or reduce their average hours by more than 15 percent without “just cause.” In order for an employer to fire an employee based on “just cause,” that employer must have utilized a progressive discipline policy and applied it consistently.

The second bill, sponsored by Councilmember Adrienne Adams of Queens, allows employers with a bona fide economic reason to lay off an employee, so long as it is done in reverse order of seniority. Employees laid off for economic reasons within the last year are entitled to reinstatement or restoration before new employees are hired.

In addition to Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) enforcement and private right of action, this bill establishes a new arbitration process overseen by DCWP for employees to enforce their rights.

The bills build upon the existing Fair Workweek guidelines and by the DCWP regulations, while also creating a new arbitration program for workers.

They also update the Fair Workweek laws to incorporate the new wrongful discharge provisions into the existing scheduling and access-to-hours hiring protections for fast food workers.

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