This week, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced landmark legislation to empower fast food workers. Known as AB 257, the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act (Act) authorizes the creation of the Fast Food Council (Council). Specifically, the Council is comprised of representatives from labor and management and sets minimum standards for fast food workers. Previously, a California Superior Court judge ruled that Prop 22, the California gig worker law, is unconstitutional.

Overview of the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act

Currently, existing law creates various protections for most employees. It appoints the California Labor Commissioner to enforce those protections. As mentioned above, the Act established the Fast Food Council until January 1st, 2029. The Council will be composed of 10 members, appointed by the Governor, Speaker of the Assembly, and Senate Rules Committee. Overall, the purpose is to establish sector-wide minimum standards on wages, working hours, and other working conditions for fast food workers. According to the Act, a fast food restaurant is a brand comprised of 100 or more establishments nationally. Standard options for decor, marketing, packaging, products, and services also define the definition of a “fast food restaurant.”

The Council must review workers’ health, safety, and employment standards at least once every three years. Following that review, the Council will issue, amend, or repeal any standards applicable to fast food restaurants, as appropriate. Correspondingly, the Council will hold public meetings or hearings no less than every six months.

Additionally, the Act authorizes counties or cities with a population greater than 200,000 to establish a Local Fast Food Council. The Local Council will provide recommendations to the Council on local workers’ rights.

Employer Takeaways

In conclusion, although the Act discussed is specific to California, employers in all states should be familiar with current or upcoming legislation affecting fast food workers. California employers covered by this Act should review and revise their policies on wages, working hours, and other working conditions, if needed. Employers should also address any questions stemming from this new law with their legal counsel.

Besides any laws affecting the fast food industry, employment-based lawsuits have become increasingly prevalent in recent years. Litigious and disgruntled employees often allege discrimination, unsafe workplaces, retaliation, whistleblower harassment, and employee leave discrepancies. If found at fault, an employer can face fines and harsh penalties. To avoid such legal actions, all employers should be familiar with the five most commonly cited and litigated federal employment laws.