Dwain Downing, an attorney in Arlington, Texas, says he is suing a Mansfield diner that ran out of soup at 2 p.m. during a Saturday lunch special. The server and on-site manager told Downing that while he didn’t have to order the sandwich, two sides, and soup special at all if the lack of soup made it unattractive to him, the restaurant’s policy was not to discount the $7.95 price or offer a third side dish as a substitute. “Downing demands $2.25 – the cost of an additional side at Our Place – plus $250 in legal fees.” Why didn’t he handle it through an online review, calling the owner on the phone or simply not coming back? “‘I’m a lawyer,’ Downing said Friday by phone. ‘And lawyers write letters.'” [Marc Ramirez, Dallas Morning News]
California political leaders have agreed on a deal that will lead to imposing a $15 minimum wage statewide, not only in San Francisco and San Jose, where the median wage is expected by 2022 to be $34-37, but also in Fresno and Chico, where the projected median wage in that year is around $20. [Noam Scheiber and Ian Lovett, New York Times]
Cities with high real estate prices are typically better able to withstand minimum wage increases than cities with low prices, because wages represent a smaller fraction of a business’s overall cost in those cities and therefore have a smaller effect on the bottom line….
Craig Scharton, the owner of a farm-to-table restaurant called Peeve’s Public House in downtown Fresno, said he was still smarting from a recent increase in the minimum wage from $9 to $10 an hour. He said the increase had forced him to close on Mondays and Tuesdays and played a role in reducing his staffing to a dozen today from 18 two and a half years ago.
Mr. Scharton was at a loss to explain how he would absorb the new increase. “We’re trying our best to revitalize downtown,” he said. “This just kind of kicks our legs out from under us.”
- Delay FDA menu labeling rules? Tinker? No, repeal [Baylen Linnekin, earlier]
- European trade negotiators would like to keep cheeses and beverages on American shelves from bearing names like Parmesan, Gouda, feta, Champagne, port, and sherry unless made over there. Nein danke, no grazie, non merci [William Watson, Cato] Weird how EU laws prevent spirits producers from being completely honest with consumers [Jacob Grier]
- Regressive-yet-progressive: “Taxing soda fits the narrative in which the obese are oppressed and soda manufacturers are the oppressors.” [Arnold Kling]
- New research (“no consensus among scientists on whether a population-wide reduction of salt was associated with better health outcomes”) could be blow to Gotham’s sodium regulation cause [Dan Goldberg, Politico New York] “Suit Halts NYC’s Misguided Restaurant Salt Warning Labels” [Linnekin]
- Lawyers in hot coffee suits still pushing “unreasonably high holding temperature” theories [Nick Farr, Abnormal Use, earlier]
- Chef turned Amish traditional sausage maker in rural Maine finds that regulation is a grind [Linnekin]
And so it goes: three former line cooks will get $3,540, their lawyer $15,700 as chef Bryan Voltaggio and business partner Hilda Staples (whose Volt and Family Meal restaurants are among my favorites) settle overtime claims [Frederick News-Post]
New York City issues its regulations on how employers, retailers, and other businesses covered by discrimination law must handle gender identity. “The NYCHRL requires [businesses] to use an individual’s preferred [pronoun] …such as they/them/theirs or ze/hir.”
Baylen Linnekin asked several food policy wonks what they thought were last year’s and next year’s biggest food stories, and here is part of my reply:
The troubles at Chipotle (whose food I like and buy, despite its dumb anti-GMO stance) brought home two points: local and handmade and every other good thing bring real tradeoffs, and food hazards aren’t just the result of moral laxity fixable by replacing “them” with educated idealists like “us.”
I also predicted that food commentator Mark Bittman, often criticized in this space, would find few takers for his notion of carding kids who want to buy a Coke. Read the whole thing here, and unrelatedly, if you are interested in food issues, check out this Russ Roberts interview with outstanding food scholar Rachel Laudan (earlier).
The current trend in social justice circles is to disapprove of tipping, and not coincidentally wage and hour law has been ratcheting up the pressure on tip-based compensation arrangements, both by curtailing employers’ leeway to count tip income as a credit toward regular wages, and by more intense litigation pressure on tip pooling and similar arrangements. Such changes alone will probably not suffice to kill the custom, so we can look forward to continuing innovation in other legal weaponry aimed at it, such as — for instance — theories that tipping aids and abets pay discrimination [Workplace Prof]
“Every public place in [Portland, Oregon] with a television set will have to display closed captioning during business hours beginning next month, or face the specter of hundreds or thousands in fines.
… advocates for the deaf cheered, and restaurant lobbyists shook their heads in frustration.” The Portland City Council vote was unanimous. [Dirk VanderHart, Portland Mercury]
“Food-delivery startup DoorDash has been sued by one of the restaurants that it buys food from, In-N-Out Burger….In-N-Out lawyers make the case that DoorDash is actually violating its trademark rights with its unlicensed delivery business.” [Joe Mullin, Ars Technica]
California lawyers, to your battle stations! Now that the World Health Organization has labeled meat (especially preserved/processed meat) as a substance likely to cause cancer, it could be headed for California’s list of probably carcinogenic things that you can be sued for exposing consumers to without posting warning labels or signs. (The Prop 65 regulations formerly covered only “chemicals,” but were lately enlarged to cover “substances” as well.) In this particular case — as in the case of pharmaceuticals — principles of federal pre-emption may shield retailers and manufacturers from liability, because the federal government closely regulates what can be said on packages of meat for human consumption. But what about restaurants and delis? Prop 65 lawsuits in the past have been aimed at sellers of grilled chicken, roasted coffee, and french fries. [Cal Biz Lit]