Date: March 9, 2020

New York City’s Fair Workweek Law requiring predictable scheduling for retail and fast-food workers, adopted in November 2017, withstood its most serious challenge last month from several business groups. 

The Fair Workweek Law, enforced by the Department of Consumer Affairs, provides that fast-food workers (including those who provide food and drink preparation, cooking, off-site delivery, security, stocking, cleaning, etc.) are entitled to estimated schedules, two weeks’ advance notice of work schedules, employees’ written consent to shift changes generally along with premium pay, priority to work shifts before hiring a new employee, and consent plus a $100 premium for opening the store within eleven hours of having closed it (“clopening”).

Several industry groups, including the NY State Restaurant Association, challenged the Fair Workweek Law by arguing that it was invalid because it sought to preempt the New York Labor Law. In a short three-page opinion, Justice Arthur F. Engoron found that New York City’s Fair Workweek Law “interferes with the freedom of contract and distorts capitalism,” and is “problematically enforceable” but concluded it was narrowly tailored and does not infringe on the state’s ability to regulate employment. He, therefore, dismissed the lawsuit.

We will follow any appeal filed by the industry groups as well as multiple bills currently pending before the New York City Council seeking to expand the law.