$15 Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers Upheld

New York Appellate Division upholds wage order increasing statewide minimum wage to $15 for chain restaurant fast-food workers

The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department today upheld a September 2015 wage order by the New York Commissioner of Labor that increases the minimum hourly wages to be paid to fast food workers employed at chains of 30 or more stores to $15 per hour by 2018 in New York City and 2021 in the rest of the state. New York state law grants the Commissioner the authority to establish minimum wages for specific industries and occupations, but the National Restaurant Association challenged the wage order on a number of state and federal law grounds, including that the Commissioner unlawfully imposed the increase only on fast food chains of a certain size. The New York Industrial Board of Appeals rejected that challenge in December 2015, and the Appellate Division affirmed that rejection. In doing so, the Appellate Division noted that the wage board had concluded, “correctly, in [its] view – that fast food chains have recently experienced significant increases in profit without an accompanying rise in wages for their workers, implying that those profits were ‘“wrung from the necessities of their employees”’ by undervaluing their labor.”

Altshuler Berzon LLP, along with New York firm Gladstein, Reif & Meginniss, LLP, represented intervening fast food workers who are covered by, and benefit from, the minimum wage increase.

Workers Win Right to Suitable Seating at their Workstations

California Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit Construe Century-Old Seating Law in Favor of Workers

Construing California’s “suitable seating” law for the first time since its enactment in 1913, the California Supreme Court ruled in April 2016 that California employers must provide workstation seating to all employees when the “nature of their work reasonably permits the use of seats.” Based on the Supreme Court’s worker-friendly construction, the Ninth Circuit applied California’s seating law to three pending class actions, ruling on June 8, 2016 that a district court had properly certified a statewide class of Walmart checkout cashiers under that standard, but that two other district courts had erroneously denied certification under that same law, one case involving CVS checkout cashiers and the other involving JPMorgan Chase bank tellers under that same law. Altshuler Berzon LLP and its co-counsel represent the workers in all three cases, and partner Michael Rubin argued the cases in both the Ninth Circuit and California Supreme Court.