Terminating an Employee in NYC: NYC “Just Cause” Dismissal Basics

Two laws expanded protections for fast food workers in New York City were signed into law by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on January 5, 2021. The laws must be understood by all employers hiring employees in NY. We suggest consulting with an attorney and creating a HR system that considers this change to law and creates a more systematic hiring and firing procedure.

Int 1415-A 2019: Wrongful Discharge of Fast Food Employees

Int 1415-A 2019, is a local law that amends the administrative code of NY City in connection with the wrongful discharge of fast food employees. Fast food employees will not longer be considered at-will employees. And it means that after the probation period, which shall not exceed 30 days from commencement of work, fast food employees may no longer be fired by an employer as the company pleases.

The law provides that a fast food employee may only be terminated from his/her work only for “just cause.” And just cause constitutes either (a) failure of the fast food employee to perform duties satisfactorily or in a way that fulfills the expectations or needs of the job and/or (b) fast food employee is guilty of misconduct which is materially harmful to the legitimate business interests of the employer.

Int 1396-A 2019: In Relation to Layoffs of Fast Food Employees

Int 1396-A 2019, is a local law that amends the administrative code of the city in relation to layoffs of fast food employees. The law states that fast food employer are not allowed to layoff a fast food employee if there is no “bona fide economic reason.”

In order for the fast food employer to prove that there is a bona fide economic reason for the layoff, the employer must comply with the following requirements: (a) there must be business records, (b) the records must show either partial or full closing of the business, organizational changes, or technological changes in the business, and (c) these business changes resulted in a decrease in sales or profit and reduction in the volume of production.

Moreover, valid layoffs conducted under this provision of the law shall be done in reverse order of seniority of service in the company. Hence, employees who were hired last shall be terminated first and those who served the company the longest shall be last to be discharged.

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