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National Restaurant Association - NRA to challenge New York wage mandate in court

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NRA to challenge New York wage mandate in court

The National Restaurant Association is preparing a legal challenge to a New York State mandate that requires fast-food employers to pay a higher minimum wage than other businesses in the state.

The state’s Industrial Board of Appeals Dec. 10 rejected the NRA’s administrative challenge of the state’s $15-an-hour wage mandate for fast-food employers.

The decision by the four-member appeals board, whose members are appointed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), was widely expected. An administrative appeal was required before a lawsuit can be filed. A court challenge now appears imminent, the Association indicated.

“We are extremely disappointed by the Industrial Board of Appeals’ decision to uphold the actions of Governor Cuomo’s wage board, which targets the hardworking men and women who own and operate New York’s restaurants,” the NRA said in a statement. “The board’s decision today said loud and clear that New York is NOT open for business. We are committed to helping the restaurant community continue to grow and create jobs across the state and plan to take legal action against this arbitrary mandate which is contrary to law.”

Cuomo proposed the wage increase last spring and a handpicked three-member fast-food wage board ratified the recommendation this summer. The mandate covers fast-food workers at chains with 30 or more locations nationally.

In its October complaint to the Industrial Board of Appeals, the NRA noted that Gov. Cuomo’s administration failed to include any restaurant representatives on the three-member Fast Food Wage Board that recommended the proposed increase. Targeting a wage hike to a single sector of a single industry is "arbitrary, capricious and contrary to law," the Association noted.

The three-member Fast Food Wage Board was composed of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Mike Fishman, secretary-treasurer of the Services Employees International Union, and Kevin Ryan, chairman and founder of online retailer Gilt.

The appeals board said the statute didn’t require a restaurant representative to be included on the wage board.

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