$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.