In the years since New York and other liberal cities celebrated raising the minimum wage for workers to $15 an hour, many fast-food restaurant employees have reported being inordinately terminated for minor infractions.
To combat the issue of such terminations, which they see as “unfair,” two Democratic city council members in New York have introduced bills that would diminish the power employers have over their workforce.
According to the New York Daily News, a bill from council members Adrienne Adams and Brad Lander, who represent districts in Queens and Brooklyn respectively, would prevent employers from terminating employment for any reason other than “misconduct or failure to do the job.” The bill also equates employers reducing their employees’ hours by 15 percent or more to the employees being fired.
Another bill introduced by Adams and Lander would force establishments to base firings or layoffs during times of economic hardship on employee seniority.
The proposed “Just Cause” legislation comes after a number of restaurant employees complained in a survey of losing their jobs for minor infractions, or in some cases, for no reason at all.
“Too many fast-food workers have been fired without a just cause, without a warning, without even any notice,” Lander said. “And if you can be fired simply on the whim of an angry boss or a disgruntled customer’s complaint, then you’re far more vulnerable to harassment or abuse.”
While it is certainly valid to fight being unjustly fired, employees, along with Lander and Adams, should also be aware of how increased operating costs might leave businesses with no other choice but to let go of employees whose wages are costing them too much.
Restaurants that have managed to stay afloat, despite having to hike up their prices and pass the increased operating expenses along to their customers, could decide that the cost of doing business is simply too great.
That could leave many more young or unskilled workers with no jobs at all.
Raising the minimum wage for food workers may have seemed like a good idea to workers at the time, but it has clearly come with many negative consequences in New York and other cities.
A minimum wage hike hit restaurants in Seattle particularly hard, where dining establishments simply cannot afford to stay open.
As a result, many food workers in the city have found themselves without a paycheck. The city’s reeling business community is still struggling to adapt to the added labor costs.
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