California is the first state to legislate specific workplace standards for fast-food workers. The state will also have a new governing council and avenues for workers’ lawsuits.
FAST Recovery Act
The Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act, also identified as the FAST Act, creates a 10-member board composed of worker advocates and state representatives. This Fast-Food Sector Council will set standards for minimum wages, maximum working hours and other working conditions. The FAST Act also has additional ways to litigate wage and employment disputes in this industry.
Every six months, the Council will hold public hearings and hear comments on health, safety, and employment conditions for fast-food restaurants. It will conduct sessions every three years to review and set minimum standards for safety and training and other pay and working condition matters. Cities with populations over 200,000 may establish local councils, which may submit recommendations to the Council.
The Council’s recommendations will be submitted to the California Legislature. These recommendations will automatically become state regulations the following October 15 unless the legislature enacts laws preventing their enactment. The state’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement will enforce the new rules.
The Council may increase the minimum wage above the state minimum wage except that it cannot be higher than $22 per hour in 2023. After being raised, it could be increased at 3.5 percent of the rate of change in the CPI.
Government officials will appoint council members and the Governor will designate its chairperson. Its membership will be composed of:
- Two fast-food restaurant franchisor representatives.
- Two representatives of fast-food restaurant franchisees.
- Two fast-food employee representatives.
- Two representatives of fast-food worker advocates.
- One Governor’s Office of Business and Economic and Business Development representative.
- One representative from the Department of Industrial Relations.
Workers will have new ways to sue for discharge, discrimination, or retaliation for exercising their rights under the FAST Act. There will be a rebuttable presumption of unlawful discrimination, or any adverse act taken against a worker within 90 days of a restaurant operator learning about a worker exercising their rights.
The FAST Act covers fast-food establishments having at least 100 locations across the nation that share a common brand or impose standardized décor, marketing, packaging, products, and service options.
These establishments must provide food or beverages for immediate consumption to customers who order and pay for food before eating. Items must be prepared in advance or prepared or heated quickly and there can be limited or no table service.
Employers should review their handbooks, manuals, and policies to assure compliance. Attorneys can assist with this review and help protect rights in employment actions.