Last year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that a new minimum wage would gradually be phased in for fast-food workers who work at establishments that are part of a chain of 30 or more locations, including those operating under a franchise agreement where the franchisor owns or operates at least 30 such establishments nationally. Effective December 31, 2015, the new minimum wage increased to $10.50 for New York City fast-food workers and is on track to increase to $15.00 by 2018. The minimum wage order was issued by the Commissioner of Labor on May 7, 201. The National Restaurant Association, a trade group, appealed to the Industrial Board of Appeals (IBA) asserting that the wage order was contrary to law. The IBA confirmed the wage order, and Petitioner appealed the decision in New York state court.
Last month, the Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division upheld the decision to increase the minimum wage for fast food workers to $15.00 per hour. The Court rejected Petitioner’s arguments that it violated the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause, that it was wrongfully delegated to a state agency and that the wage board members appointed by the Commissioner were not true representatives of employers and employees. The Court noted the difficult nature of the work in the fast food industry and that workers often work irregular hours, engage in a variety of complex tasks often under extreme pressure and poor working conditions. The Appellate Division upheld the wage order and agreed with the wage board that “fast food chains have recently experienced significant increases in profits without an accompanying rise in wages for their work, implying that those profits were wrung from the necessities of their employees.”