Court Rejects Challenge to Fast Food “Wrongful Discharge Law”

In Restaurant Law Center & NYS Restaurant Association et al v. City of New York, 21-cv-4801, 2022 WL 409190 (S.D.N.Y. February 10, 2022), the court rejected a challenge, mounted by plaintiffs, to a 2021 amendment to New York City’s Fair Workweek Law.

In 2017, NYC enacted the Fair Workweek Law (N.Y.C. Admin. Code §§ 20-1201 to 20-1263) to expand wage and hour protections for employees working at fast food businesses. In 2020, the NYC Council amended this statute by enacting the Wrongful Discharge Law (N.Y.C. Admin. Code §§ 20-1271 to 20-1275), which “prohibits the employers governed by the Fair Workweek Law from firing hourly wage employees without notice or reason in the absence of egregious misconduct, and provides those employees with the option to arbitrate claims of alleged violations of the Law.”

While the court held that while the NYSRA had “standing” to pursue its federal claims (in that it showed “injury in fact under a theory of diverted resources”), plaintiffs’ claims failed.

As to plaintiffs’ federal claims, the court held, contrary to plaintiffs’ contentions, that the WDL was: (1) not preempted by the federal National Labor Relations Act (noting, inter alia, that the WDL is a “validly enacted minimum labor standard” that “does not frustrate effective implementation of the NLRA’s processes” [cleaned up]); (2) not unconstitutional under the Dormant Commerce Clause; and (3) not preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act.

Having dismissed plaintiff’s federal claims, the court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over their state law claims.

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