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February 22, 2022

Federal Court Upholds NYC’s Wrongful Discharge Law for Fast Food Restaurant Employees

In 2021, New York City amended its Fair Workweek Law to expand labor protections for employees of fast food restaurant chains. This amendment, the Wrongful Discharge Law, granted fast food restaurant employees “just cause” protection from discharge, and the right to challenge a wrongful discharge through arbitration. We previously covered this development here.
Home » News » Federal Court Upholds NYC’s Wrongful Discharge Law for Fast Food Restaurant Employees

Michael Keefe
Tue, 02/22/2022

In 2021, New York City amended its Fair Workweek Law to expand labor protections for employees of fast food restaurant chains. This amendment, the Wrongful Discharge Law, granted fast food restaurant employees “just cause” protection from discharge, and the right to challenge a wrongful discharge through arbitration. We previously covered this development here.

On February 10, 2022, in Restaurant Law Center v. City of New York, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York upheld the Wrongful Discharge Law against a legal challenge brought by restaurant groups opposed to the new protections. The restaurant groups sought to strike down the law on several grounds, arguing that it violates the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Federal Arbitration Act. The federal district court rejected each of these claims. The court ruled that the Wrongful Discharge Law is constitutional because it minimally burdens interstate commerce; that it is consistent with federal labor law because it does not treat unionized and nonunionized employees differently, or otherwise invade the collective bargaining process; and finally, that it is consistent with federal arbitration law because it does not prohibit or impair the enforcement of private arbitration agreements. In so ruling, the court declined to exercise jurisdiction over the restaurant groups’ various state law claims.

For more information about this case or your employment rights, please see our Restaurant & Food Services Resources, or contact us.

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