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Grewal seeks fast-food company records on no-poach pacts

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Attorney General Gurbir Grewal speaking at the Senate Budget Committee Meeting in the State House Annex in April.
Attorney General Gurbir Grewal speaking at the Senate Budget Committee Meeting in the State House Annex in April. - ()

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and 10 attorneys general from other states have called on eight fast-food franchisors to provide information on their use of no-poach agreements restricting workers' ability to seek a job with another franchise.

Contacting company officials via letter, the group has requested records from Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Little Caesars, Wendy’s, Arby’s, Popeyes Louisiana Chicken and Panera Bread about their potential use of no-poach provisions. It wasn’t immediately clear how those companies were selected for the correspondence.

“In the fast-food industry, no-poach agreements can limit a worker’s future job prospects and restrict his or her earning potential, which is not only unfair to the worker but can harm the state’s economy,” Grewal said in a statement Monday. “We promise our workers that if they work hard, they will qualify for new opportunities, earn higher wages and improve their quality of life. Through this letter, we’re trying to learn whether some of the biggest players in the fast-food industry have contracts that undermine that promise.”

A July 2017 study at Princeton University found that roughly 80 percent of 156 franchise agreements analyzed contained no-poach provisions.

“Workers who live in a Democracy should be free to change jobs,” said Robert Asaro-Angelo, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. “Non-poaching agreements, which are becoming more common, can block workers from being considered for jobs that pay better, move them up the ladder or are located closer to home – the traditional reasons people look for a new job. These agreements can exploit low-wage workers who are most in need of job protections.”

In their letter, the attorneys general said that “when taken in the aggregate and replicated across our states, the economic consequences of these [no-poach] restrictions may be significant.”

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Gabrielle Saulsbery

Gabrielle Saulsbery

Albany, N.Y. native Gabrielle Saulsbery is a staff writer for NJBIZ and the newest thing in New Jersey. You can contact her at gsaulsbery@njbiz.com.

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