- If the law was symbolic, consumers were apparently unswayed by its symbolism: L.A. zoning ban on new freestanding fast-food restaurants had no effect on obesity [The Guardian, NPR, Baylen Linnekin, earlier]
- More on draft new federal dietary guidelines: “Report lays groundwork for food ‘interventionists’ in schools, workplaces” [Sarah Westwood, Washington Examiner, earlier, public comment open through April 8]
- Opposition to GMOs is not humanitarian [Telegraph] Washington Post editorial rejects labeling on GMO foods;
- Baker fell afoul of French law by keeping his boulangerie open too often [Arbroath]
- A sentiment open to doubt: “There is a great need for lawyers to utilize their policy and litigation tools in the fight for a better food system.” [Melanie Pugh, Food Safety News]
- “Food policy” progressives “whistle same tune as large food producers on issue of food safety” [Baylen Linnekin, related on single-agency scheme, more Linnekin on competition-through-regulation among makers of wine corks]
- Why restaurant operators need to know about patent trolls [James Bickers, Fast Casual]
Obama wage-hour chief David Weil told the Wall Street Journal that leaders of the National Retail Federation approached him urging a hike in the federal minimum wage. Apparently readers are meant to infer that this policy is so obviously fair, or overdue, or beneficial to the national economy, that even big business leaders who will be paying the higher wages favor it. The anecdote is not even the tiniest bit paradoxical, however, once you realize that major national retail operators already tend to pay over the minimum and wouldn’t mind kneecapping their smaller, less-established, or lower-margin competitors who don’t [WSJ and blog, Donald Boudreaux, Tim Worstall]
Meanwhile: “More Seattle restaurants close doors as $15 minimum wage approaches” If only anyone could have predicted! [Shift WA via J.A. Cohen] But note this Seattle Times piece in which the owners of the four closing restaurants say the wage hike wasn’t the reason.
“A woman dining alone on Valentine’s Day has filed a $100,000 lawsuit against the Northeast Portland restaurant she tried to eat at claiming they were rude and upset her.” She is representing herself. [Oregonian]
“A New Jersey man cannot collect damages for burns he suffered while bowing his head in prayer over a sizzling steak fajita skillet at Applebee’s, a state appeals panel ruled.” [Religion News Service/Newark Star-Ledger]
The Chamber of Commerce is calling attention to its ten favorites for the year [via Bainbridge, list can be found there]. Eight of the ten may ring a bell with those who have followed our coverage (goblin-toppler, helmet toss, undecillion dollars, man saved from drowning sues rescuers, California ADA serial filer, falls after seeing “Dexter” ad on subway, caught sleeping on camera at Yankees game, claims “Frozen” based on own life story), while two are new to us:
“A Long Island woman says in a lawsuit that her 29-year-old son died in a drunken driving crash because police decided not to arrest him on DWI charges earlier that night…. Restaurant chain Ruby Tuesday’s is also named in the lawsuit, because [the late Peter] Fedden was drinking there before the two crashes, according to [Fedden family lawyer Harry] Thomasson.” [NBC New York, auto-plays]
The National Labor Relations Board has been so hyperactive lately reshaping the law for the benefit of labor unions that it gets a roundup all to itself:
- NLRB announces new right to use employer’s email system for union organizing [Daniel Schwartz]
- Per 2-1 vote, NLRB agrees with ALJ that restaurant can’t fire workers over false posters claiming its food is unsafe [Patrick DePoy and Christopher Johlie, JD Supra; earlier on case, and IWW campaign against MikLin/Jimmy John’s]
- Other recent NLRB insubordination rulings expand frontiers of right to flip off, cuss out one’s boss [Loren Lee Forrest Jr. and Frederick D. Braid, Holland & Knight, WSJ on Hooters case, earlier]
- “Unions win again at NLRB with ‘ambush elections’ rule” [Kent Hoover/Business Journals, Eric Stuart and C. Thomas Davis, Ogletree Deakins, Hirsch/Workplace Prof, earlier]
- “Expanding Joint Employer Status: What Does it Mean for Workers and Job Creators?” [House Education and Labor hearing, September; earlier here, here, etc.] Related, first and second batch of critical amicus letters;
- Confirmation of nominee Lauren McFerran by lame-duck Senate will lock in union-friendly majority for next two years or so [Sean Higgins, Washington Examiner; Richard Rahn, Washington Times]
- “Congress Must Rein In the NLRB” [Ryan Williams, Roll Call]
Ben Edelman has a law degree from Harvard Law School, a teaching position at Harvard Business School, and an economics and business background that has brought him such consulting clients as Microsoft, the NFL, the New York Times. He also seems to think he knows how to make life sheer hell if you’re the owner of a Chinese restaurant in Woburn and Brookline, Mass., that charged him $4 more than your website said because you don’t update your website as often as you ought.
Hilary Sargent at Boston.com has the whole story, including the email trail. (“It strikes me that merely providing a refund to a single customer would be an exceptionally light sanction for the violation that has occurred…. I have already referred this matter to applicable authorities in order to attempt to compel your restaurant to identify all consumers affected and to provide refunds to all of them, or in any event to assure that an appropriate sanction is applied as provided by law.”) Is Prof. Edelman trying to get us to consider him as the new poster guy for Overlawyered?
P.S. Edelman defends himself here. Before the Sichuan affair, the professor was already known for taking an entrepreneurial approach to online complaint [Bloomberg Business Week] “If you think this is bad, you should see his antitrust analysis.” [reader W.R.] And from New York, relevant to a question that may have occurred to some readers: “Can A Business Ban An Attorney Who Has Filed A Lawsuit Against It?” [James Lemonedes, Above the Law]
Another hidden gift inside the Affordable Care Act: mandatory calorie labeling for many restaurant menus. Walter Olson comments on the complications and potential unintended consequences of such a mandate.
My new Cato podcast: the new FDA calorie labeling rules apply to not-so-big chains (20 +) of grocery stores and amusement facilities as well as restaurants, and make it less likely that servers and local managers will manage to vary from rigidly standardized recipes, menu listings and portion sizes based on knowledge of their local customers, temporary availability of attractive ingredients, and so forth. That won’t matter much for food servers who already design their offerings in a lab, but spells trouble for those whose offerings are more localized or unpredictable (earlier). Coverage by Ed Morrissey of what the scheme would mean for a 21-unit pizza chain is linked here.
In January, David Boaz commented on the parallel vending machine calorie label mandate:
In my experience, vending machines shuffle their offerings fairly frequently. If the machine operators have to change the calorie information displayed every time they swap potato chips for corn chips, then $2,200 [per operator per year] seems like a conservative estimate of costs. But then, as Hillary Clinton said when it was suggested that her own health care plan would bankrupt small businesses, “I can’t be responsible for every undercapitalized small business in America.”
More: Baylen Linnekin. And Julie Gunlock recalls her own days working in a supermarket deli. Goodbye, making up prepared salads in single-serving containers from whatever produce happened to be in overstock at the time. Hello, food waste!