NEW YORK, NEW YORK — Effective July 5, 2021, fast food employees working in the five boroughs of New York City will no longer have to worry about being terminated without reason. This means employers must show “just cause” as to why a worker should be fired. Steven Mitchell Sack, “The Employee’s Lawyer,” says this new law will help protect workers in low-paying jobs from being unfairly fired, especially if this job is their single source of income.
Under the new law, an employer will be required to show proof that a worker failed to perform their necessary duties or engaged in misconduct prior to terminating their employment. To ensure that they will not be dismissed on the spot, employees will be given a series of warnings and appropriate disciplinary actions prior to being fired. In addition, companies will be required to offer employment to former employees before hiring new employees.
Mr. Sack says this bill is a big step in the right direction because it further protects worker’s rights, especially in at-will states such as New York, where employers maintain the right to fire employees at any time for any reason, except on the basis of age, race, gender identification, religion, national origin, physical and/or mental disability, sexual preference, or military status.
“This new just cause bill will provide much-needed job security for fast food workers in New York City,” says Mr. Sack. “These workers are paid very low wages and, for many of them, this is their only source of income. By putting this bill into law, fast food workers’ livelihoods are no longer at the mercy of their employers, who once enjoyed the ability to fire whomever they wanted for whatever reason and at any time. Now, these employers must justify their actions before terminating an employee.”
Mr. Sack has been an employment attorney for more than 40 years. He is known for successfully representing a group of waiters in Samiento v. World Yacht Inc. The landmark New York Court of Appeals decision made it more difficult for restaurants and caterers to keep gratuities intended for their wait staff. He is the author of The Employee Rights Handbook, which has been called a “first-aid kit” for current and prospective employees, giving them the information they need to understand their job rights and protect and assert themselves to collect what is due; telling his readers and clients that “every firing is negotiable.” He served as plaintiffs’ counsel on behalf of three women who were wrongfully terminated when their employer discovered they were pregnant. A Bronx Supreme Court jury awarded the plaintiffs $6.2 million.