Assembly Bill 257 Blocked, for Now

In 2022, several Bills were signed into law, and most of these Bills became effective on January 1, 2023. Some of the Bills that took effect on January 1, 2023, include Senate Bill 1162 (Pay transparency and pay data reporting requirements), Assembly Bill 1949 (Provision of bereavement leaves), and Senate Bill 1044 (Enhancement of retaliation protection during emergency conditions). One Bill, in particular, that was signed on September 5, 2022, did not become effective on January 1, 2023, as was scheduled. On the last court day of 2022, a Sacramento County Superior Court judge issued an order blocking the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) from implementing Assembly Bill 257, also referred to as the FAST Recovery Act. This Bill aims to transform how the service sector is regulated by creating a counsel to set minimum standards on working hours, wages, and working conditions related to the safety, health, and welfare of fast-food workers.

Understanding Assembly Bill 257

Assembly Bill 257 is meant to establish a Fast Food Council made up of;

  • Franchisees;
  • Franchisors;
  • Fast food employees;
  • Worker advocates; and
  • Government representatives inside the DIR

As already mentioned, this first-of-its-kind council would set standards for working hours, wages, and working conditions for fast-food employees. Specifically, according to AB 257, the council can increase the minimum wage for covered employees to $22 per hour, effective January 1, 2023. 

Additionally, if AB 257 becomes effective, it will prohibit employers from discriminating or retaliating against employees for any of the following reasons:

  • The worker complained or revealed information, or the employer believes the worker will complain or reveal information to, for instance, the franchisor or someone with the power to investigate or rectify the noncompliance or violation. 
  • The worker participated in a proceeding relating to employee health/safety or public health/safety, or a council or Local Fast Food Council proceeding. 
  • The worker refused to work in a restaurant because they reasonably believed the actions or premises of the restaurant would, for example, violate the law.
  • The worker refused to work in a restaurant because they reasonably believed the practices or premises of the restaurant would pose a substantial risk to their safety or health, or that of other workers, or the public. 

Under AB 257, if an employer fires or takes another adverse action against a worker within three months of finding any of the above actions, it is assumed that the employer practiced discrimination. 

Why Was Assembly Bill 257 Blocked?

The temporary blocking of AB 257 came after a consortium of small and large restaurants known as Save Local Restaurants filed a lawsuit in an effort to have the Bill’s provisions put to a ballot referendum in 2024. According to the lawsuit, the consortium submitted over a million signatures as part of a referendum petition against the Bill. As of when Save Local Restaurants filed the lawsuit, over 600,000 still needed to be authenticated. California law requires that if the state authenticates enough signatures, AB 257 should be paused and considered by voters in the 2024 election. 

The matter was set for a hearing on January 13, 2023. 

Contact a California Employment Lawyer

If you need more information about AB 257 or the blocking of this Bill, contact a California employment lawyer to discuss.