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Over The Next Three To Six Years, New York Raises The Minimum Wage For Fast Food Workers To $15.00 Per Hour

  • By: David Rich
  • Published: October 13, 2015

On September 10, 2015, acting New York State Commissioner of Labor Mario J. Musolino signed an order (the “Wage Order” or the “Order”) which (1), over a period of three years, raises New York City’s minimum wage for fast food employees from $8.75 per hour to $15.00 per hour and (2) over a period of six years, increases the minimum wage for fast food workers in the remainder of New York State from $8.75 per hour to $15.00 per hour.

Specifically, the Commissioner of Labor’s Wage Order provides that New York City’s hourly minimum wage for fast food employees will increase to:

  • $10.50 on and after December 31, 2015;
  • $12.00 on and after December 31, 2016;
  • $13.50 on and after December 31, 2017; and
  • $15.00 on and after December 31, 2018.

Under the Wage Order, the hourly minimum wage for fast food workers in New York State, but outside of New York City, will increase to:

  • $9.75 on and after December 31, 2015;
  • $10.75 on and after December 31, 2016;
  • $11.75 on and after December 31, 2017;
  • $12.75 on and after December 31, 2018;
  • $13.75 on and after December 31, 2019;
  • $14.50 on and after December 31, 2020; and
  • $15.00 on and after July 1, 2021.

The Commissioner of Labor’s Wage Order accepted the factual findings and recommendations of the 2015 Fast Food Wage Board (the “Wage Board”) in the 23-page Report of the Fast Food Wage Board to the NYS Commissioner of Labor filed July 31, 2015On the instructions of New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and pursuant to New York Labor Law sections 653(1) and 659(1), the Commissioner of Labor had convened the Wage Board in May 2015 to inquire into and report and recommend adequate minimum wages and regulations for workers in fast food chains.

The Wage Order applies to “Fast Food Employee[s]” working at or for “Fast Food Establishment[s].”  The Order defines “Fast Food Establishment[s]” as any establishment in the State of New York serving food or drink items:

  1. where patrons order or select items and paid before eating and such items may be consumed on the premises, taken out, or delivered to the customer’s location;
  2. which offers limited service;
  3. which is part of a chain; and
  4. which is one of thirty (30) or more establishments nationally, including: (i) an integrated enterprise which owns or operates thirty (30) or more such establishments in the aggregate nationally; or (ii) an establishment operated pursuant to a franchise where the franchisor and the franchisee(s) of such franchisor own or operate thirty (30) or more such establishments in the aggregate nationally.

Under the Wage Order, a “Fast Food Employee” means any person working at or for a Fast Food Establishment whose job duties include at least one of the following: customer service, cooking, food or drink preparation, delivery, security, stocking supplies or equipment, cleaning, or routine maintenance.

The Commissioner of Labor’s Wage Order will apply to approximately 139 fast food chains in New York State, each of which has 30 or more locations nationwide.

The fast food chains covered by the Wage Order include nationwide behemoths such as Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, Starbucks US, and Taco Bell.  Also among the fast food chains bound by the Order’s phased-in, $15.00 per hour minimum wage are chains founded and headquartered in New York State, such as Nathan’s Famous and Shake Shack.

The fast food industry in New York State employs from 164,000 to 200,000 workers in some 15,000 to 20,000 establishments throughout the state, depending on how the industry is defined and the data sources utilized.  It appears that a majority of these 164,000 to 200,000 fast food workers in New York State are covered by the Wage Order’s phased-in, $15.00 per hour minimum wage.

In the last two years, a number of U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, and the California cities of Oakland and Berkeley, have approved a minimum wage which, in staggered increases, has reached or will reach $15.00 per hour.  However, the New York State Commissioner of Labor’s Wage Order makes New York the first state to approve, in stages (or, for that matter, to set immediately) a minimum wage as high as $15.00 per hour, albeit only for fast food workers.

Call the Law Offices of David S. Rich, LLC at (347) 941-0760 to speak with a knowledgeable labor and employment lawyer about ensuring that your company complies with overtime pay and other wage and hour laws, or to retain a skilled overtime attorney to defend your company in unpaid overtime lawsuits or other wage and hour litigation.

David Rich

About the Author David S. Rich is the founding member of the Law Offices of David S. Rich, LLC,
a New York Employment and Business Litigation Law Firm, in New
York City and in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey...Read more