Health & Safety – Numerous additional jurisdictions have announced new vaccine mandates for indoor dining. Municipalities in California and Hawaii have been particularly active with Contra Costa County, CA, West Hollywood, CA and Maui, HI all adopting new mandates. Both customers and employees can present negative COVID-19 tests if they do not wish to be vaccinated. Of particular note, a Los Angeles County health order was issued this week requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for all customers and employees in indoor areas of bars, wineries, breweries, nightclubs, and lounges; however, restaurants were specifically exempted. More details.
Labor Department – The agency announced its annual adjustment to the federal minimum wage for certain federal contractors. Effective Jan. 1, 2022, the minimum wage for these contractors will be increased from $10.95/hr to $11.25/hr and a minimum cash wage of $7.90/hr for eligible tipped employees. More details.
Pima County, AZ – The county heard a proposal to raise the minimum wage in the unincorporated part of the county to $15/hr. The current local minimum wage is $12.15/hr. No votes were taken but the issue will return to the board for additional consideration. More details.
Amazon – The company announced it is planning to fill 125,000 new roles nationwide and will pay an average of $18/hr to staff those positions. While starting pay stands at $15hr, the company said it would also offer a $3,000 signing bonus in some locations. More details
Sam’s Club – The company announced that it’s raising its starting wage from $11/hr to $15/hr, as of Sept. 25. The membership-based warehouse club will now have a noticeably higher starting wage than its parent company, Walmart, which currently starts new workers at $12/hr. More details.
Allegheny County, PA – The county council unanimously passed an ordinance requiring companies that have more than 25 workers to provide up to 40 hours per year of paid sick leave. The County Executive previously vetoed a similar bill, but the County Board of Health passed its own rules which precipitated the legislation. More details.
Darden – A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against the company related to the tipped wage. It alleged that the company’s use of the tip credit – legal under federal law and the rules of most states – is a violation of anti-discrimination regulations. The lawsuit was filed by One Fair Wage which has been conducting an ongoing corporate campaign against the company. The judge found that One Fair Wage had no standing to bring the lawsuit. More details.
Starbucks – After workers at three units in Buffalo petitioned for a vote on whether to unionize, the company has petitioned the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that all 450 workers in the city should be allowed to vote. There are 20 Starbucks stores within the Buffalo market. The Board has yet to rule on the request. More details.
California – Legislation is on its way to the governor’s desk to extend the ability of restaurants to sell cocktails to-go through 2026. Customers will be limited to two drinks per meal, and must pick up cocktails in person and show a photo ID. Beer and wine will continue to be available for delivery. More details.
New York, NY – DoorDash filed a lawsuit this week against the city over a recently-passed law requiring delivery companies to share more customer data with restaurants. Earlier this summer, the city council approved a bill mandating delivery companies provide customer data (names, phone numbers, emails, and delivery addresses) to restaurants that fulfill the order, unless a customer opts out. The company claims the law is unconstitutional because “it interferes with freely negotiated contracts between platforms and restaurants by changing and dictating the economic terms on which a dynamic industry operates.” It is the latest in a string of lawsuits by third-party platforms against regulators. More details.
Chicago, IL – The city council approved an ordinance mandating that by Jan. 2022, delivery and carry-out orders can include utensils, napkins, and other single-use item items only if expressly requested by the customer. There are some exemptions for drive-thrus. Straws, beverage lids, and packaging items are not covered by the ordinance. More details.
- There was extensive media coverage this week around how Walmart, Amazon and other retailers are impacting the labor market. By constantly increasing wage and benefit packages, the retail community is attracting the “cream” of the available crop of workers and leaving the rest for other industries. Outside of significantly altering pay and benefits models, leading restaurant brands may want to consider whether benefit mandates – like paid leave – may help to level the playing field and close the competitive gap between themselves and other entry-level employers.
- The pandemic allowed for the industry to make significant political and policy gains – in the alcohol and delivery spaces – that may not have been realized without such an unprecedented business interruption. Delivery fee caps, written agreement requirements, and other restrictions on third-party platforms, as well as upsetting long-established alcohol restrictions through delivery and cocktails to-go were emblematic of industry successes over the last 18 months. However, entrenched interests in those industries are now trying to reclaim some of that lost ground as evidenced by the recent lawsuits in New York City and California by the delivery platforms and big wins by alcohol distributors in Massachusetts and Nevada. The industry needs to prepare to defend the progress of the last year and a half, and brace for entrenched battles as we head into the 2022 state legislative sessions.
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