Yesterday New York City Council Members Brad Lander and Adrienne Adams introduced two bills that together would require fast-food corporations to demonstrate “just cause” for discharging employees. The legislation has a broad definition of discharge, encompassing “termination, constructive discharge, reduction in hours [of at least 15% per week], and indefinite suspension.”
Just cause is defined as an “employee’s failure to satisfactorily perform job duties or misconduct that is demonstrably and materially harmful to the fast food employer’s legitimate business interests.” In addition to laying out the just cause requirement, the primary bill provides for a 30-day at-will probationary period and for a system of progressive discipline. Under the law, workers would be able to appeal discharges through an arbitration proceeding designed by a joint committee of fast food employees and employers and their respective advocates. The secondary bill mandates that layoffs be based on seniority to prevent employers from structuring unfair firings as layoffs.
The bills were introduced alongside a report from the National Employment Law Project, the Center for Popular Democracy, 32BJ SEIU, and Fast Food Justice detailing the toll that at-will employment has taken on fast food workers in the city.