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Fast-food workers fight against arbitrary firings

Workers in fast food in New York City continue to face serious problems and violations of their rights on the job. While their movement for a $15-per-hour minimum wage was victorious and sparked similar movements across the country, they continue to deal with wage theft, inappropriate firings or retaliation for reporting harassment, and other types of inappropriate conduct. One member of City Council said that he plans to introduce legislation requiring fast-food companies to show just cause before dismissing workers; fired employees could also appeal their dismissals through an arbitration procedure.

The proposal comes after a number of complaints from fast-food workers about wrongful dismissals. Workers have said that they were fired for not smiling enough, reporting harassment and other causes that could be linked to racial or gender discrimination. This comes after other reforms have hit the industry, such as the bill passed two years ago requiring city fast-food franchises to provide work schedules in advance to employees. Workers said that they could not make plans as they could always face unexpected call-ins. However, the restaurant industry has filed suit in an attempt to block the legislation.

According to one survey, around 66 percent of workers fired from fast-food jobs were never given a reason for their dismissal. These marginalized workers often face a lack of stability in their jobs, which can go hand in hand with other problems. For example, wage and hour complaints are common in the industry, and workers may report not being paid for all the hours that they worked or not receiving proper overtime pay.

Workers who are facing violations of wage and hour laws may fear retaliation or dismissal for complaining. By working with an employment attorney, individuals may work to defend their rights and seek compensation for the wages they were unfairly denied.

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