Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
Last June, New York City passed legislation that significantly reduced fast food and retail employers’ flexibility in crafting schedules to meet their legitimate business needs. This “Fair Workweek” legislative package also included a requirement that fast food employers set up a system allowing employees to request payroll deductions for voluntary contributions to authorized not-for-profit organizations. This "Deductions Law" required fast food employers to remit these contributions directly to the not-for-profit organizations.
The Restaurant Law Center had filed a lawsuit against New York City that challenged the law, alleging it was preempted by the National Labor Relations Act and the Labor Management Relations Act. During the pendency of the lawsuit, New York City and the Restaurant Law Center entered into a stipulation in which the City agreed to halt enforcement of the Deductions Law and its associated rules until the earlier of: (a) a determination of plaintiffs’ motion and defendants’ cross-motion, or (b) June 8, 2018. As the court has not yet ruled on the parties’ motions for summary judgment, the stay has expired and the City is free to begin enforcement against fast food restaurants.
Under the Deductions Law, fast food employers will be required provide a written authorization to their employees that includes the following information: (a) the employee’s name, address, and signature; (b) the amount, frequency and start date of the contribution; (c) the entity’s name, address, email, web address (if applicable), phone number, and contact person; and (d) a “statement notifying the fast food employee that contributions are voluntary and that the authorization to deduct is revocable at any time by submitting a written revocation to the not-for-profit.” A fast food employer will also have to begin/end the requested deductions no later than the first pay period after 15 days of its receipt of the authorization or revocation. Employers must remit the contributions within 15 days after the payroll deduction.
The legislation defines a “not-for profit” organization as any entity organized under any state’s not-for-profit laws, but explicitly excludes “labor organizations” – i.e., unions – as that term is defined by federal and state law. Such organizations, however, could include groups like Fight for $15 or Make the Road New York, which were influential in lobbying for the Fair Workplace legislation and the state fast food minimum wage protections.
As the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs has already initiated several hundred Fair Workweek investigations, fast food employers within NYC are strongly encouraged to begin providing written authorization to their employees and implementing a system to collect and remit any voluntary contribution.