Breaking Down the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act

We always keep an ear to the ground when it comes to big moves in the restaurant industry. Just this week, on September 5, 2022, California passed a controversial bill aiming to put workplace rules and regulations on the books for restaurant employees. Aptly named the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act (aka the FAST Recovery Act), this new legislation would create a Fast Food Council who would have sweeping authority over fast food restaurants, including the ability to set regulations, training, wages, and more. It is, by many measures, giving workers a proverbial “seat at the table” when it comes to employment in the restaurant industry.

What’s it all about?

At its core, the FAST Recovery Act was designed to “set minimum standards for workers in the industry, including for wages, conditions related to health and safety, security in the workplace, the right to take time off from work for protected purposes and protection from discrimination and harassment,” according to a post on the state’s website. This bill authorizes the creation of a Fast Food Council composed of fast food employees, franchisees, franchisors, and officials from the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development and the Department of Industrial Relations. The Council will set industry-wide standards for fast food restaurants operating with 100 or more locations across the country. Additionally, it will hold hearings twice a year and review standards every 3 years.

In addition to developing standards for wages and workplace safety, the bill also makes certain that fast-food franchise owners are held accountable for violations of state employment laws. It “would prohibit a fast food restaurant operator from discharging or in any manner discriminating or retaliating against any fast food restaurant employee for specified reasons,” per the text of the legislation.

Why the controversy?

This might sound great on its surface, but there are many out there with negative feedback about the bill’s passage. Some arguments claim that the Fast Good Council will be occupied with unelected bureaucrats who will have big-time sway over wages and regulations, even if the standards they set aren’t suitable for all restaurants. There is also talk of increased prices for consumers, since fast-food wages are going to be increasing as well. To offset the costs, restaurants can either pass the costs off to consumers, or implement newer technologies aimed at automating the fast-food experience (and thus decreasing the need for workers in general). 

There is sure to be a legal challenge or two to come as a result of the passage of the FAST Recovery Act, and we’ll surely be watching out. You can read the full text of the bill here.

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