New York City and Fast Food Employee Protections

On January 5, 2021, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed two bills (Int. 1396-2019 and Int. 1415-2019) enacting layoff protections, wrongful discharge protections, schedule change premiums, and predictable scheduling for fast food employees.

Per Int. 1396-2019, fast food employers may not lay off fast food employees without a bona fide economic reason. Layoffs for a bona fide economic reason must be done in reverse order of seniority (those hired last are discharged first) and the employer must make reasonable efforts to offer any employee who was laid off, in the previous 12 months, reinstatement or hours before offering the hours to other employees or hiring someone new. Additionally, arbitration between fast food employers and their employees will be permitted as of January 1, 2022.

Per Int. 1415-2019, fast food employers may not discharge employees who’ve completed their probationary period except when they fail to satisfactorily perform their job duties or because of their misconduct that is harmful to the employer’s legitimate business interests. Discharged fast food employees who lose a shift on a work schedule as a result of discharge, including employees whose are terminated for any reason, are entitled to schedule change premiums for each lost shift. Additionally, the law amended the city’s predictive scheduling law by requiring fast food employers to give each fast food employee:

  • A regular, predictable schedule, with regularly recurring weekly shifts;
  • For new employees, a written copy of their regular schedule that includes the days, times, and locations of their hours before they start working; and
  • Written notice of schedule changes.

The total hours in a fast food employee’s regular schedule may not be reduced by more than 15 percent from their regularly scheduled highest total hours during the previous 12 months unless the employee consented to it in advance, requested the reduction in writing, or the reduction was consistent with the new restrictions on discharges.

These laws are effective on July 4, 2021.