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The City of Long Beach’s Premium Pay for Grocery Workers Ordinance withstood a critical court challenge. Best Best & Krieger LLP Partner Christopher Pisano and his team successfully defended the City in a motion for a preliminary injunction that was denied Thursday by a federal court judge.
The Ordinance will remain in place and will ensure that grocery store workers in the City receive fair compensation for the risks they face providing essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Long Beach adopted a so-called “hero pay” ordinance in recognition of the hazards grocery store workers face by coming to work during the pandemic. The Ordinance requires select grocers operating in the City to temporarily pay an additional $4 per hour to non-managerial workers.
In the order denying the preliminary injunction, which was sought by the California Grocers’ Association, the court found that CGA was not likely to succeed on the merits of the claims asserted in the lawsuit, including National Labor Relations Act preemption, and violations of the Equal Protection and Contracts clauses of the U.S. Constitution.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been awful,” the order states. “In an effort to avoid illness, permanent health damage and death, we have lived in a state of quarantine for an entire year and counting. Meanwhile, certain workers deemed ‘essential’ have continued to work in roles that do not practically permit quarantining from others. For example, grocery workers have served an essential function by keeping stores open, stocked and sanitized, despite the perils of working frequently within six feet of the general public.”
Chris was joined by BB&K attorneys Jeffrey Dunn and Daniel Richards (California Grocers Association v. City of Long Beach, 2:21-cv-00524).

Long Beach was one of the first cities in the nation to adopt this sort of ordinance, kicking off a trend being seen nationwide. BB&K is assisting other cities in successfully adopting their “hero pay” ordinances for grocery store workers. This same team also successfully defended the City of Coachella’s Premium Pay for Grocery Workers Ordinance in July.

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