January 31st was the last day for the California legislature to approve bills that had been initially introduced in 2021 before they are shelved for good. The FAST Recovery Act (Assembly Bill (AB 257) was such a bill.

AB 257 would create an 11 member Fast Food Sector Council appointed by the Governor and state legislators to review and create workplace standards for fast food employees – including standards on wages, working conditions, and training – and to issue, amend, and repeal rules and regulations pertaining to fast food employment as appropriate.  The Council would be required to hold public hearings every six months and to conduct a full review of the adequacy of minimum fast-food restaurant health, safety, and employment standards at least once every three years.  The bill would also permit a county, or a city with a population greater than 200,000, to establish a Local Fast Food Sector Council authorized to provide recommendations to the state Council and would prescribe requirements for the state Council in connection with these recommendations.

In addition, AB 257 would have significant implications for franchisers as it would require that fast food restaurant franchisers be responsible for ensuring that their franchisees comply with a variety of employment, worker, and public health and safety laws and orders, including those related to unfair business practices, employment discrimination, the California Retail Food Code, labor regulations, emergency orders, and standards issued by the Council.  If passed, the bill would make a franchiser jointly and severally liable for violations of its franchisees and would provide that specified laws may be enforced against a franchiser to the same extent that they may be enforced against a franchisee.  Further, AB 257 would make any agreement by a franchisee to indemnify its franchiser for liability void and unenforceable as contrary to public policy and would allow franchisees to file an action against their franchisers for monetary or injunctive relief in connection with the franchisee’s compliance with specific laws.

Last year, the author of AB 257 sent the bill to the inactive file, but it was pulled out this year, amended, and passed by the California State Assembly on January 31st. The bill now has to pass California’s Senate and be signed by the Governor to become law.

Jackson Lewis tracks legislation relevant to employers in California and across the nation. If you have questions about the FAST Recovery Act or related issues, contact a Jackson Lewis attorney to discuss.