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California bill on fast-food worker safety faces opposition

Photo: Juanmonino/iStockphoto

Sacramento, CA — The California Assembly has approved legislation that would require fast-food chains and their franchisees to share responsibility for complying with worker safety laws and regulations.

Sponsored by Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), A.B. 1228 would ban any agreement between franchisors and franchisees that aims to waive the franchisor’s liability for worker rights violations. In addition, franchisees would be permitted to file action against their franchisor if abiding by the franchisor’s terms infringes on their ability to comply with employment laws.

“Some franchisees are violating employee rights at a far higher rate than establishments owned and operated by the franchisor,” Holden said in a press release. “In many ways, this can be completely out of the franchisee’s control although they are often the ones suffering penalties while employees bear the blow of flawed franchise models. I believe many franchisees want to do right by the people that work for them but may not see it as possible under their franchisor’s terms and conditions.”  

A coalition of more than 150 small businesses, restaurants, trade associations, social justice groups and individual franchisees have joined together to oppose the bill. The group contends the legislation “would force national fast-food companies to exert more control over local franchised restaurants, fundamentally destroying the franchise model in California and turning locally owned and operated restaurants into corporate-run restaurants and stripping local restaurant owners of their authority as small business owners.”

The bill, passed by the state Assembly with a 42-22 vote on May 31, is now under consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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