New York Seeks to Protect QSR Employee Hours

City Council weighs proposals that would limit employers’ discretion to fire employees or cut hours.

February 24, 2020

NEW YORK—New York City’s City Council is reviewing measures for quick-service restaurants that they hope eventually will spread throughout the country. The proposals would deny local quick-service employers the ability to fire employees or cut staff and hours at will, according to Restaurant Business Online.

Intro 1415 would require an employer to “take remedial action and provide warnings before discharging an employee or cutting the worker’s hours by more than 15%.” Additionally, if cutting hours becomes necessary, employers must document just cause, as determined by an arbitrating body. “The employer would also have to prove, if challenged, that the employee was informed of the business’ dissatisfaction and provided with a reason for their discharge.”

The second measure prohibits staff cuts unless the quick-service employer can provide a “bonafide economic reason,” as defined in the proposal as a cutback in hours, the adoption of technology or an organizational change. It would also require that the layoffs be made solely on seniority, with disregard to job titles, performance or business importance.

“New York City’s fast-food industry has served as a laboratory for the nation’s labor movement for the last several years, and it is the natural place to start with just-cause legislation,” said council member Adrienne Adams, the sponsor of the layoffs-related proposal, Intro 1396.

New York is an at-will state, meaning employees serve at the will and discretion of employers. New York City’s quick-service industry consists of 3,000 restaurants employing 67,000 employees.