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NYC mulls labor violations bill

NEW YORK The City Council here on Monday heard arguments concerning a reintroduced bill that would require the city's health department to consider labor law violations when issuing or renewing restaurant permits.

Called the Responsible Restaurant Act, the bill was originally introduced about two years ago by employee advocacy group the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York and sponsored by Councilman Eric Gioia. The measure was reintroduced at a council hearing Monday.

Under the proposal, operators applying for or renewing a restaurant permit would have to indicate whether they have been found in violation of any wage and hour laws over the past five years. A reported labor violation could result in the denial or suspension of the restaurant's permit.

The bill also would require the health department to publish labor violations along with health code violations.

The proposed legislation has the support of restaurant workers and reportedly several council members, but both the health department and the New York State Restaurant Association oppose it.

“This bill has been around for years and never really gotten out of committee,” said Chuck Hunt, executive vice president of the NYSRA’s New York City office. “There are already so many laws and vigorous programs in place where [labor] violations [are monitored and] issued. Even the health department’s deputy commissioner testified against [the bill] at yesterday’s hearing. She said the department didn’t have the expertise to enforce it and isn’t mandated to do so either.”

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