Allegra Jones

Midyear Compliance Check-In for Restaurants and Bars in California

Just like checking your smoke detector or the air in your car tires, checking in about employment law updates midyear is a great idea. Here’s a quick primer on some of the most significant, recent developments affecting restaurants and bars:

1. California’s Version of the Equal Pay Act. It’s a good time for all employers to conduct an audit to make sure they are not paying workers of one sex more than workers of the opposite sex who are performing substantially similar work, in violation of the California Fair Pay Act. As of January 1, 2017, California employers must also be able to show that any difference in pay between employees performing substantially similar work is not based on race or ethnicity. For example, if your pay scale is based on merit, seniority, a piecemeal rate, or another valid factor such as education or training, pay disparity may be justifiable. But, the best practice is to conduct a full analysis of the reasons for any pay disparity among your employees, and to make sure that prior wage salary history is not the sole reason for any pay disparity.

2. Marijuana. Even though California “legalized” marijuana in the last election, employers need not permit marijuana use or distribution in the workplace. Under current California law, recreational and medicinal marijuana use does not need to be accommodated. (See Ross v. RagingWire Telecommunications, Inc.) When updating your employee handbook, make sure your drug-free workplace policy explicitly lists marijuana as a prohibited substance, particularly as cannabis is still listed as a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”) (21 U.S.C. § 812(c)). Continue reading Midyear Compliance Check-In for Restaurants and Bars in California

Dangers of Data-Mining in California Restaurants: Song-Beverly Credit Card Act

Data is hugely important in running a successful restaurant today.  Targeted email marketing campaigns can be an invaluable marketing tool.  But trying to collect too much data can land your bistro in hot water.  California has specific laws limiting what data can and cannot be collected – restaurants need to be aware of these limitations or it can be very costly.

Continue reading Dangers of Data-Mining in California Restaurants: Song-Beverly Credit Card Act

Will Restaurants and Other Employers Implement the New Overtime Rule on Dec. 1?

Employers nationwide, including those in the food and beverage industries, have been gearing up to implement the U.S. Department of Labor’s new overtime rule that was scheduled to take effect on December 1.  But, shortly before the Thanksgiving holiday, a Texas federal judge decided to block it, potentially affecting more than 4 million workers.

The Final Rule would have more than doubled the minimum standard salary level for overtime-exempt “white collar” employees—individuals employed in an executive, administrative, or professional (including the salaried computer exemption) capacity—to $47,476 annually (or $913 weekly). In other words, workers paid less than $47,476 would have been entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), unless they fell within another exemption.

Many employers had already announced this wage-and-hour change. However, in State of Nevada v. United States Department of Labor, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued a preliminary injunction blocking the Final Rule. Thus, companies have been left scrambling, trying to decide whether Continue reading Will Restaurants and Other Employers Implement the New Overtime Rule on Dec. 1?

Is Your Restaurant or Bar Compliant with California’s Voting Laws?

Since the 2016 election is less than one week away, all employers in California, including restaurants and bars, should have already posted the required notice informing employees of their right to time off to vote, either in the workplace or where it can be seen by employees as they enter or exit the workplace.  (Cal. Elec. Code § 14001.)

In California, employees are entitled to two hours of paid time off to vote if they don’t haveimg_0581 sufficient time outside of working hours to vote. (Cal. Elec. Code § 14000.) The polls in California are open from 7 AM to 8 PM. Paid time off should be at the beginning or end of the employee’s shift, whichever allows the most free time for voting and the least time off from the regular working shift, unless the employer and employee agree to another arrangement.  A maximum of two hours is paid, though employees may take additional unpaid time off if it’s needed to vote. Employees must provide notice two working days prior to the election if, on the third working day before the election, they know or have reason to know they will need leave.  (Cal. Elec. Code § 14000(c).) Continue reading Is Your Restaurant or Bar Compliant with California’s Voting Laws?

A Bite-Sized Look at Ballot Measures in California for Restaurants

election-dayThere are eighteen statewide ballot measures that Californians will be voting on this election cycle and countless local measures.  While few items on the ballot directly affect the California restaurant industry as a whole, here are a few statewide and local measures to be aware of:

Continue reading A Bite-Sized Look at Ballot Measures in California for Restaurants

Prank Calls Wreck Restaurants – Criminal Liability and Fire Code Requirements

Attention Prank Calls

Last week, a number of restaurants in California’s Central Valley received a phone call from someone claiming to be from either a local fire department or a fire alarm company.  The caller asked the restaurant to test the emergency fire suppression system, claiming that the system was in “test mode.”  The problem was, it was a prank call, and the fire suppression system was not in “test mode.”

Continue reading Prank Calls Wreck Restaurants – Criminal Liability and Fire Code Requirements

How to Take Down Bad Reviews On Yelp and Win a $500,000 Judgment — Hint: Don’t Sue Yelp

Yelp - People Love Us
Want to remove bad reviews posted on Yelp that are hurting your business?  Want to win a half million dollar judgment against a malicious reviewer?  Here’s how one person did it – and they did it without suing Yelp.

Continue reading How to Take Down Bad Reviews On Yelp and Win a $500,000 Judgment — Hint: Don’t Sue Yelp

Negative Online Reviews

Should restaurant owners care about negative online reviews?  A study by Harvard Business School indicated a one-star increase on a Yelp review can boost a business’s revenue by five to nine percent.

Image courtesy of alexisdc at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Continue reading Negative Online Reviews

New Rule: Six Weeks of Paid Parental Leave in San Francisco

Maggie and DaxYesterday, San Francisco became the first city in the nation to require six weeks of full paid leave for new parents.  If you or work in or manage a restaurant in the City by the Bay, here are a few things you should know:

  • The law applies for both mothers and fathers
  • It includes newborn and adopted children
  • Part-time employees who work at least 8 hours a week are covered

Continue reading New Rule: Six Weeks of Paid Parental Leave in San Francisco

Sinbad’s Dine and Dash

Sinbads Before and AfterToday, Sinbad’s restaurant looks like a shipwreck next to San Francisco’s Ferry Building. A demolition crew is on site and Sinbad’s is in bankruptcy court. The classic restaurant-bar recently lost a series of legal battles that ultimately shut it down after 40 years of continuous operation.

To sum up what happened, Sinbad’s had been operating since the mid-1970’s. With its stunning views and location on Pier 2 at the foot of Market Street, it had a mixed clientele of locals and tourists. In turn, it paid rent to the City of San Francisco. Eventually due to population growth in the Bay Area, the City decided to expand the number of ferry terminals serving the City’s Financial District. The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission held public hearings in 2012 about the plan to expand the ferry terminals and remove Sinbad’s. Despite being notified, Sinbad’s didn’t show up. Continue reading Sinbad’s Dine and Dash