News and Studies

News and Studies

Featured News

Fast Food Brands Duck Joint Liability for Child Labor Violations

Major brand names are facing new pressure to address child labor violations at their franchised locations following a surge in cases involving fast food restaurants and other businesses operating under corporate licensing agreements.

Most fast-food and drive through restaurants aren’t run by the name hanging above the door, but are actually independent owners who have signed a licensing agreement with a corporation to operate under their brand.

Throughout the Biden administration, the US Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division has cited at least 33 independent franchisees of McDonald’s, Sonic Drive-In, and Dunkin’ Donuts, among other national brands, for violations ranging from allowing kids to work too late or operate ovens and other dangerous equipment, according to a Bloomberg Law analysis of the agency’s child labor enforcement actions.

Read more here

Low wages, short hours drive many fast-food workers into homelessness

When Jose de la Torre began delivering pizzas for Papa Johns in 2019, he made $15 an hour and shared a one-bedroom apartment in the Florence-Graham neighborhood with half a dozen other people.

After two years on the job, his hourly rate was the same but his work schedule had been cut — to about 30 hours a week instead of the full 40, he said. Meanwhile, his everyday living expenses had gone up. He began sleeping in his Nissan Altima, parking it near the Papa Johns in Lynwood where he worked.

“I made the choice,” De la Torre, 53, said. “It was either my car and eat, or rent.”

Read more here

Fast food industry’s low wages help fuel California’s homeless issues, says new report

Fast food is the largest employer of homeless workers in California, with one of 17 unhoused individuals in the state working in the industry.

That’s according to a new report released Monday by the Economic Roundtable, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit research organization. The report highlights how the fast-food industry’s low-wage jobs contribute to the state’s homeless crisis and proposes improvements to keep workers and their families housed.

The research found fast food workers make up 5.9% of California’s homeless population and 11% of all homeless workers in the state. The poverty rate for the households of frontline fast food workers is also roughly three times higher than the rest of the state’s workers.

Read more here

Silver Taube: We are facing a child labor crisis

In May, the Department of Labor obtained a preliminary federal court injunction prohibiting the operator of 14 Bay Area Subway locations from violating child labor laws, threatening and retaliating against workers and obstructing a federal investigation. The 14- and 15-year-old children, who were operating dangerous equipment like ovens and working longer than legally permitted, faced threats when they raised concerns. California labor law limits 14- and 15-year-olds to three hours of work on school days, and no work after 7 p.m.

In May, an Oakland Popeye’s franchise shut down after a labor commission complaint was filed alleging unsafe work conditions and child labor violations. According to the complaint, a 13-year-old girl worked 40 to 45 hours a week and until midnight on three school days per week. California labor law forbids 12- and 13-year-olds from working on school days. Two 17-year-olds at the same Popeye’s worked until 11:30 p.m. on school nights. State laws limit 16- and 17-year-olds to four hours of work daily during the school day and permit no work past 10 p.m.

Read more here


The fast-food model lets corporations escape liability. California might chart a new course

AB 257, a proposed law that would establish a statewide Fast Food Sector Council made up of workers, corporate representatives, franchisees and state officials that would meet every three years to negotiate industry standards on wages, work hours and other conditions for fast-food workers.

The bill would hold fast-food corporations responsible for ensuring their franchisees comply with a variety of employment and public health and safety orders, including those related to unfair business practices, employment discrimination, the California Retail Food Code, as well as new standards issued by the council. The bill would make franchisee violations of employment laws enforceable against franchiser and franchisee equally.

Read more here


State and Local Policies and Sectoral Labor Standards: From Individual Rights to Collective Power

Ken Jacobs, Rebecca Smith, and Justin McBride

UC Berkeley, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (July 2021)

COVID-19 Hazards Among California Fast-Food Workers

Rajiv Bhatia and Martha Dina Arguello

Physicians for Social Responsibility, Los Angeles (April 2021)

Few Options, Many Risks: Low Wage Asian and Latinx Workers in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus and University of California, Berkeley Labor and Occupational Health Program (April 2021)


Strategies to Improve the Franchise Model: Preventing Unfair and Deceptive Franchise Practices

Report from the Office of Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (April 2021)


Wage Theft in Silicon Valley: Building Worker Powers

Michael Tayag, Ruth Silver Taube, Felwina Mondina, Katherine Nasol, and Forest Peterson

Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition (April 2021)


The Fast-Food Industry and COVID-19 in Los Angeles

Kuochih Huang, Ken Jacobs, Tia Koonse, Ian Eve Perry, Kevin Riley, Laura Stock and Saba Waheed

UCLA Labor Center, UC Berkeley Labor Center, UCLA Labor Occupational Health and Safety Program, and the UC Berkeley Labor Occupational Health Program (March 2021)


Excess mortality associated with the COVID-19 pandemic among Californians 18–65 years of age, by occupational sector and occupation: March through October 2020

Yea-Hung Chen, Maria Glymour, Alicia Riley, John Balmes, Kate Duchowny, Robert Harrison, Ellicott Matthay, Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo

Institute for Global Health Sciences, UC San Francisco, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, UC San Francisco, Department of Medicine, UC San Francisco (January 2021)