New Fast Food Bill May Curb Wage Theft in California

California legislators have been implementing many worker-friendly bills over the past several years. The newest potential win for California employees is Assembly Bill 257 (AB 257). This bill would significantly expand workers’ rights in the fast food industry by regulating the industry more carefully.

One of the most valuable changes the bill might make would be an expansion of liability for employment law violations like wage theft. Here’s what you need to know about AB 257, how it might protect workers from stolen wages, and what you can do if you think you’re being shortchanged on your paychecks. 

Assembly Bill 257: Improving Conditions for Workers

AB 257 would significantly alter how fast food franchise owners and corporations would be required to operate. Currently, if an employee alleges that their employer has stolen their wages, only the individual franchise location is liable for paying them back. Even if the site is a major chain like McDonald’s or Subway, the greater corporation is insulated from liability for the claim. Proponents of AB257 argue that this allows fast food corporations to ignore labor violations and encourages franchisees to cut corners, reducing workplace safety and standards.

If AB 257 is signed into law, that will change. The bill would extend liability for these violations from the franchisee to the franchisor. If a Subway location underpays its workers or forces them to work off the clock, the Subway corporation as a whole would also be responsible for paying those employees back. California legislators have already implemented similar laws governing the construction, nursing home, janitorial, and landscaping industries. 

How to Identify Wage Theft in Your Workplace

Wage theft is more common than you might expect. If any of the following situations sound familiar, your employer may be stealing your wages:

  • Your paycheck is routinely short, even after notifying your manager.
  • You work hourly, but you don’t receive overtime pay. 
  • You aren’t given mandatory breaks or are required to work on those breaks.
  • A previous employer refuses to send you your final paycheck.
  • Your employer doesn’t reimburse you for purchases necessary for your job. 

In all of these situations, your employer is failing to compensate you appropriately according to California law. If you’re facing any of these issues, you’ve suffered wage theft and may be eligible for back pay and other damages. 

Stand Up Against California Wage Theft

You don’t have to wait for AB 257 to become law to hold your employer accountable for wage theft. If you work in fast food, you can still file a claim against your specific franchise to pursue back pay and damages for the money your employer stole from you. 

The expert California employment law attorneys at Alexander Morrison + Fehr, LLP, are here to help. Reach out today to schedule your free consultation. We will discuss your case and help you choose the best path forward to receive the pay you’re owed. Call 310-394-0888 or contact us online to learn more.