All posts by Allegra A. Jones

Same-Sex Couples’ Rights in Restaurants and Bars

On the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges on June 26, 2015, holding that that there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage under the 14th Amendment and striking down state-level bans on the practice, the rights of certain religious restaurant owners and other businesses, such as wedding planners, caterers and bridal salons, to refuse service to customers on the basis of sexual orientation will come to the forefront.

Restaurants and bars qualify as “public accommodations” under federal law, even if they’re a private business. That means it is illegal under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for those businesses to discriminate or segregate on the basis of “race,” “color,” “religion,” or “national origin.” (It is also illegal to refuse service to disabled or handicapped individuals, under the Americans with Disabilities Act.) While federal law does not include “sexual orientation” within the group of people who are protected from discrimination, laws in many states do protect those groups. For example, California law prohibits the arbitrary exclusion of individuals from a restaurant based on their sexual orientation or marital status. (Unruh Civil Rights Act, Cal. Civil Code § 51 et seq.; see also Rolon v. Kulwitzky (1984) 153 Cal.App.3d 289.) Even in states where discrimination against LGBTQ people isn’t banned, such as Arizona, local laws may prohibit sexual orientation discrimination. Continue reading Same-Sex Couples’ Rights in Restaurants and Bars

Upcoming Legal Compliance Deadlines for Bay Area Restaurant Owners and Other Employers

• April 30, 2015 is the deadline for employers covered by the Health Care Security Ordinance (HCSO) and the Fair Chance Ordinance to submit their 2014 Employer Annual Reporting Forms. If you are a restaurant owner or employer with 20 or more employees, you may likely be covered by the HCSO. If you cannot meet the April 30 deadline, a penalty of $500 per quarter will be assessed until the form is submitted. Please carefully review the instructions before submitting the form.
• May 1, 2015 is the effective date for San Francisco’s minimum wage to rise to $12.25 per hour. The Minimum Wage Ordinance requires all employers to post a notice informing employees of their rights. The notice must be posted at each workplace in San Francisco in a location where employees can read it easily.
• July 1, 2015 is the effective date when key provisions of the new paid sick leave law, the California Healthy Workplace Family Act of 2014, take effect. There are a number of new requirements for employers under this law, so please be sure to review the application of the new law with an employment law attorney. Employers must provide at least 24 hours or 3 days of paid sick leave for each eligible employee per year, display a poster on paid sick leave where employees can read it easily, provide written notice to employees with sick leave rights at the time of hire, keep records showing how many hours have been earned and used for 3 years, and comply with additional requirements.