Effective October 31, 2016, a new statute requires a 90-day retention period for food service workers in New York City in venues such as corporate cafeterias, arenas and cultural institutions when a food service contractor is terminated. After 90 days, the new contractor must evaluate the workers and must retain them if they are deemed satisfactory.
Specifically, on October 31, 2016, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed, into law, Local Law 131 of 2016 (“Local Law 131” or the “new Law”), which takes effect immediately. On October 13, 2016, the New York City Council, by a vote of 47-3, had approved Local Law 131.
Local Law 131 requires a 90-day transition period for displaced food service workers when a new owner or operator takes over a building located within the City of New York. The new Law applies to locations such as corporate cafeterias, arenas and cultural institutions, but not to restaurants. Further, venues owned by the federal, state, or city government are excluded.
Under Local Law 131, a former food service contractor must provide, to the successor food service contractor, a full and accurate list containing the name, address, date of hire, and job category of each cafeteria worker. The successor contractor must continue to employ, and must not fire without “cause,” all food service workers for not less than 90 days.
At the end of the 90-day transition period, the successor food service contractor must complete “a written performance evaluation” for each cafeteria worker retained under the new Law. If a cafeteria worker’s performance during this 90-day period is “satisfactory,” the successor food service contractor must offer, to the worker, continued employment.
If at any time the successor food service contractor determines it needs fewer cafeteria workers to perform the food service than the former food service contractor had employed, then the successor food service contractor shall retain the cafeteria workers by seniority within job classification. If such a reduction in force occurs during the 90-day transition period, then the successor food service contractor must maintain a preferential hiring list of those cafeteria workers not retained at the sites. The successor contractor must give, to the workers on this preferential hiring list, a right of first refusal to any jobs within their classification that become available during the 90-day transition period.
A food service worker who is discharged or not retained in violation of Local Law 131 may sue the successor food service contractor in New York Supreme Court, may obtain an order of reinstatement, and may recover back pay, the cost of benefits which the successor contractor would have incurred but for the wrongful termination or non-retention, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.
The new Law substantially parallels the protections which, in New York City, are already provided to displaced building service workers under the New York City Displaced Building Service Workers Act, N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 22-505, and to displaced grocery workers under the New York City Grocery Workers Retention Act, N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 22-507.
The new Law is codified as N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 22-508.