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Workers’ Rights Revolution: New York City Passes Law Ending At-Will Employment for Fast Food Employees

New York City Passes Law Ending At-Will Employment for Fast Food Employees

In July 2021, New York City passed a new law that will change the employment landscape for many fast food workers. The law eliminates at-will employment, which has long been a standard feature of the American labor market.

At-will employment means that an employer can discipline or discharge an employee for any reason, as long as it is not illegal. It also means that an employee can quit their job at any time, for any reason, without notice.

The passing of this new law means that fast food workers in New York City will now have greater job protections. Under this law, fast food workers can only be disciplined or discharged for just cause.

This means that employers must have a valid reason for taking action against an employee, and that such actions must be supported by evidence.

Details of the New Law

The new law applies only to fast food employers, defined as those with 30 or more locations nationwide. These employers will now be required to follow a process of progressive disciplinary actions, which means that they must provide warnings and opportunities for improvement before taking more drastic disciplinary action.

Employers will also be required to provide fast food workers with written reasons for any disciplinary action they take against them. The new law also requires fast food employers to offer employees the opportunity to work additional hours before hiring new employees.

This provision aims to prevent employers from using part-time workers to avoid providing benefits like healthcare, as employers will now be required to offer hours to existing employees before they can hire new workers. Expansion on the City’s 2017 Fair Work Week Law

The new law builds on New York City’s existing Fair Work Week Law, which took effect in 2017.

The Fair Work Week Law requires employers to give workers their schedules at least two weeks in advance and to pay them for any last-minute changes to the schedule. The law also requires employers to offer existing employees the opportunity to work additional hours before hiring new employees.

Background on At-Will Employment in the US

At-will employment has been a feature of the American labor market for the better part of a century. The idea behind at-will employment is that employers should have the freedom to make decisions about their workforce without fear of legal repercussions.

However, this freedom also means that employees have little job security and few protections against wrongful discharge or layoffs.

Exceptions to At-Will Employment and Their Limitations

While at-will employment gives employers a great deal of power, there are some exceptions that provide employees with certain protections. Common law protections, for example, prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who report safety concerns or try to unionize.

These protections also prohibit employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of age, race, gender, or other protected categories. However, even with these protections in place, enforcing them can be difficult when employees are subject to at-will employment.

Many employees may be hesitant to report safety concerns or join a union out of fear of retaliation or being fired. It’s also difficult to prove discrimination in an at-will employment scenario, as employers can claim that they had a legitimate business reason for disciplining or discharging an employee.

Examples of Discrimination Cases within At-Will Employment

One high-profile case of an employee who was fired at-will and filed a wrongful discharge lawsuit was Sheri Lederman, a longtime New York teacher. Lederman claimed that she was unfairly fired after receiving poor evaluations, which she argued were the result of a flawed evaluation system.

While Lederman’s case was ultimately dismissed, it highlights the challenges that employees face when they have little job security and few protections against dismissal.

Final Thoughts

The new law in New York City is a step forward in providing fast food workers with greater job security and protections against wrongful termination. However, it also raises larger questions about the role of at-will employment in the American labor market.

As the gig economy continues to grow and more workers are subject to at-will employment, it’s worth considering whether this model of employment provides adequate job security and protections for employees. Melody Walker’s Efforts to Change At-Will Employment Laws for Fast Food Employees

Melody Walker was a Chipotle employee who, in 2018, was fired from her job after she refused to comply with a new “smile policy” that required employees to smile at all times while on the job.

Her firing prompted her to become an advocate for fast food workers’ rights and to push for legislative changes to eliminate at-will employment in the fast food industry.

Overview of Melody Walker’s Firing from Chipotle

Walker’s refusal to comply with the “smile policy” was due to her own personal struggles with depression and anxiety.

When she was fired, she took to social media to express her frustration with Chipotle’s management and their lack of empathy for workers facing mental health issues. Her firing sparked outrage among workers in the fast food industry, who identified with Walkers situation and felt that they too were being mistreated by their employers.

Creation of the #JustCause Movement

In response to the harsh working conditions faced by fast food workers, Walker created the #justcause movement in 2019. The campaign aimed to eliminate at-will employment in the industry and to push for just cause protections for workers.

Just cause protections would ensure that fast food workers could only be fired for valid reasons, as opposed to mere whim or management preference. Through her campaign, Walker has become a key voice in the labor movement, advocating for greater protections and rights for all fast food workers.

The #justcause movement has grown in popularity, with more and more workers joining the cause and calling for an end to at-will employment and greater protections against unjust terminations. Details on Walker’s Website, MyFastFoodStory.org

Walker also created MyFastFoodStory.org, a website that allows fast food workers to anonymously share their experiences with worker abuses and mistreatment at the hands of management.

The website serves as a place where fast food workers can voice their concerns and experiences without fear of retaliation. Many workers who use the website share stories of being fired without cause or being subjected to unfair working conditions.

There are also stories about workers who are forced to work overtime without pay or who are denied breaks. Walker’s website provides a much-needed outlet for workers to share their experiences and to raise awareness about the challenges they face in the fast food industry.

Potential for New York’s New Law to Pave the Way for Similar Legislation

While Walker’s efforts to eliminate at-will employment in the fast food industry are ongoing, recent developments in New York City present a glimmer of hope. In July 2021, the city passed a new law that eliminates at-will employment for fast food workers.

This move by New York City may pave the way for other cities and states to follow suit, leading to a shift in the labor market towards greater job security and protections for workers.

Conclusion

The struggle to eliminate at-will employment in the fast food industry is ongoing, but individuals like Melody Walker and movements like #justcause are making strides towards change. With the passing of new legislation in New York City, there is hope that the labor market will shift towards greater job security and protections for workers.

In light of ongoing efforts to eliminate at-will employment in the fast food industry, recent developments provide hope. New York City’s new law to eliminate at-will employment for fast food workers is a significant step towards greater job security and protections for workers.

Melody Walker and the #justcause movement are also actively advocating for just cause protections for workers. While there is still work to be done, the outcome of these efforts could lead to a major shift in the labor market towards greater protections and rights for workers.

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