IFA Remembers DLA Piper Partner and IFA General Counsel Dennis E. Wieczorek

 

 

Dennis E. Wieczorek, CFE, age 62, respected attorney at DLA Piper for 37 years, chairman of its Franchise and Distribution Practice, died July 11.  The sad news resulted in numerous outpourings of sadness, support for the family and memories of a well-esteemed friend for his positive business and personal influence.

The DLA Piper law firm and its predecessor firms have served as IFA’s General Counsel since the start of the association, 54 years ago.  His areas of concentration included U.S. and international franchising, licensing, antitrust and distribution law matters.

Wieczorek, DLA Piper partner, began work on IFA matters from almost his earliest days at the firm, and formally assumed the role of general counsel several years ago.  He was an active participant during IFA’s Annual Conventions and Legal Symposiums, as well as IFA board meetings.  In addition to his participation on the IFA board and its related committees, Wieczorek participated on the association’s Legal/Legislative Committee and Legislative Action Group.

“Dennis Wieczorek’s professionalism, expertise and friendship will be truly missed at IFA,” said IFA Pres. &CEO Steve Caldeira, CFE.  “His keen intellect, sound judgment, steady demeanor and focused diligence in the critical efforts that we are making to defend franchising in legislative and judicial arenas at the federal, state and municipal levels has made the IFA and the industry better and stronger. Dennis was, quite simply, indispensable.”

Wieczorek’s franchise practice excellence has been recognized by research publisher Chambers & Partners in Chambers Global and Chambers USA; The International Who’s Who of Franchise Lawyers; The Best Lawyers in America, as well as being named Best Lawyers’ 2011 Chicago Franchise Lawyer of the Year.  He was honored as Best Lawyer for 2014 in Chicago’s Best Lawyers magazine and as a repeat Franchise Times Legal Eagle.

In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, please make your contributions to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, 14 Pennsylvania Plaza, Suite 1710, New York, NY 10122.

 

IFA Files Lawsuit Against Seattle for Equal Treatment

 

 

SEATTLE, June 11, 2014 – The International Franchise Association (IFA), a Washington, D.C.-based trade group, and five franchisees today filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Seattle seeking to block Seattle’s recently enacted law to increase to the city’s minimum wage to $15 per-hour. The complaint alleges the new law illegally discriminates against franchisees and improperly treats them not as the small, locally-owned businesses they are, but as large, national companies.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray last week signed the law, which requires large businesses, defined as those with more than 500 employees, to raise the minimum wage they pay their employees to $15-an-hour over three years beginning on April 1, 2015.  Smaller businesses have an extra four years, or a total of seven years, to phase in the wage increase.

IFA’s lawsuit asserts that the Seattle statute unfairly requires Seattle’s 600 franchisees, who own 1,700 franchise locations and employ 19,000 workers, to meet the three year deadline for large businesses simply because they operate as part of a franchise network. The lawsuit argues that the Seattle ordinance defies years of legal precedent clearly defining a franchisee as an independent local business owner who operates separately from the corporation that provides brand and marketing materials.

“Hundreds of small, locally-owned businesses and thousands of their employees are unfairly threatened by Seattle’s new law. We are not seeking special treatment for franchisees, we are just seeking equal treatment. The city’s minimum wage statute arbitrarily and illegally discriminates against franchisees and significantly increases their labor costs in ways that will harm their businesses, employees, consumers and Seattle’s economy,” said Steve Caldeira, IFA president & CEO. “We hope the court will block the ordinance to save jobs and prevent Seattle from unfairly singling out one type of business – a franchise – for punitive treatment.”

“Seattle’s new minimum wage law unconstitutionally discriminates against franchisees by categorizing them as big businesses even when they are small and independently owned. A single hotel or restaurant can be treated as if it employs more than 500 people even when it actually employs only 15 people,” said Paul D. Clement, a partner at the law firm Bancroft PLLC and a former U.S. Solicitor General. “We’re asking the federal court to stop this unfair attack on small business owners who happen to be franchisees.”

The complaint names as defendants the City of Seattle and the Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services. It seeks an injunction to stop the law from going into effect as scheduled on April 1, 2015. The plaintiffs are IFA; Charles Stempler, owner and operator of two AlphaGraphics stores in Seattle and three elsewhere in Washington State; Katherine and Mark Lyons, owners and operators of BrightStar Care of North Seattle; Michael Park, General Manager and owner of a Comfort Inn in Seattle and president of the Korean American Hotel Owners Association (KAHOA); and Ronald Oh, General Manager and an owner of a Holiday Inn Express in Seattle.

The lawsuit alleges that the ordinance violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by arbitrarily discriminating against small businesses simply because they are franchises. For example, a non-franchise company with 450 workers is categorized as a small employer and gets extra time to comply with the law. But a franchisee with just five employees is considered a large employer – and gets less time to raise its wage floor – if its franchise network employs more than 500 workers nationwide.

The lawsuit also contends that the ordinance violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution because it imposes regulations based partly on business occurring in other states. For instance, if a Seattle franchisee has only a few workers in Seattle, but its franchisor’s network has more than 500 workers out of state, it is classed as a large employer and gets tougher treatment. Under the new law, a Seattle-based business that happens to be associated with a national franchise can be forced to pay a higher minimum wage than a non-franchise business of similar size.

The complaint also argues that discrimination between franchise and non-franchise businesses is prohibited under the Washington State Constitution and that the Seattle ordinance imposes health care changes that violate the federal labor statute called the Employee Retirement Income Security Act or ERISA.

Go to SeattleFranchiseFairness.com to learn more about the issue and the coalition of Seattle small business owners working together to oppose the franchisee provisions in the city’s minimum wage law. The site, which will be updated regularly, includes video, a petition and an outreach tool for supporters to contact the City Council. Read the full complaint here. Case number: 14-848  

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Lawsuit Challenges Seattle’s $15 Minimum Wage

FORBES: Crusade Begins Against Seattle Minimum-Wage Law’s Treatment Of Franchise Owners

KIRO- Seattle Minimum Wage Coverage

NATION’S RESTAURANT NEWS: San Francisco Proposes $15 Minimum Wage

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Group Of Seattle Franchise Businesses Sue To Stop $15 Minimum Wage

WALL STREET JOURNAL REAL TIME ECONOMICS BLOG: Trade Group Sues to Block Seattle’s Minimum-Wage Law

PUGET SOUND BUSINESS JOURNAL: Fast-Food Eatery Togo’s Will Expand To Seattle (Not Afraid Of $15 Wage)

REUTERS: Trade Group, Franchisees Sue To Block Seattle Minimum Wage Hike

Q13FOX: Franchise trade group files suit against Seattle’s $15 minimum wage law

KING5 NEWS: Franchise owners file federal lawsuit over $15 minimum wage

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Franchisees sue city over transition period under new wage law

KING5 NEWS: Seattle Mayor Ed Murray Responds To Franchise Lawsuit

KING5 NEWS: IFA Files Lawsuit Against Seattle Minimum Wage Law

NORTHWEST CABLE NEWS (Northwest News Today): Seattle Minimum Wage Coverage

SEATTLE WEEKLY NEWS: Challengers Line Up To Thwart Seattle Minimum-Wage Bill, Including Tim Eyman

ASSOCIATIONS NOW: Minimum Wage Law: Franchise Association Files Suit Against Seattle

MANUFACTURING BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY: Seattle’s Minimum Wage — The Next Chapter

SEATTLE WEEKLY NEWS: International Franchise Association Goes On the Offensive with Seattle Times Ad

CREATIVE COMMONS GROUND REPORT BLOG: Seattle Raises Minimum Wage To $15/Hr

ENTREPRENEUR: Franchisees Take Action Against Seattle’s Minimum Wage Law

FOX BUSINESS: Franchise group sues to block Seattle’s minimum wage

INDUSTRIAL DISTRIBUTION: Seattle’s Minimum Wage — The Next Chapter

FOX NEWS: Seattle Business Owners React To Minimum Wage Increase

WALL STREET JOURNAL LIVE: Labor’s War on Franchises

FOX NEWS: Businesses Launch Legal Challenge To Seattle’s $15 Minimum Wage

BLOOMBERG: When Minimum Wage Laws Count Small Franchisees As Big Business

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Employers worry over effects of $15 wage law

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Minimum Wage Issue Pits Franchisees Against Cities

FOX BUSINESS: IFA Says Optimism Driving Franchise Growth

WORK PLACE CHOICE: SEIU’s Illegal Plan To Unionize Small Businesses Imposes Heavy Costs

THE BLAZE: Big Labor Has Some New Tricks Up Its Sleeves

TOPEKA METRO NEWS: Minimum Wage Issue Pits Franchisees Against Cities

IFA Takes Legal Action to Preserve the Franchise Model

 

 

Last week, Seattle’s City Council passed an ordinance that raised the minimum wage to $15, the highest in the United States. Large employers, defined as businesses with 500 or more employees, have three years to implement the payroll change while small businesses have up to seven years. However, independently-owned franchised businesses are being unfairly categorized as large employers under the new ordinance. There are more than 600 franchisees in Seattle, who own 1,700 franchise locations and employ 19,000 workers.

IFA’s President & CEO Steve Caldeira spoke out against this discriminatory proposal and announced plans to file a lawsuit against the City of Seattle. He asserted that “hundreds of franchise small business owners are being punished simply because they chose to operate as franchisees” during his statement directly following the vote.

Click here to stay updated on how the Seattle Minimum Wage Plan is affecting the franchise industry. Below is a small sample of the national press coverage IFA has received on the issue, for a full list of media coverage please visit our website.

NATIONAL:

The Huffington Post: ABC News Panel Debates Raising Minimum Wage

Forbes: Minimum Wage Hike Feels Good Now, But Will Lead to Long-Term Pain

The New York Times: Seattle Approves $15 Minimum Wage, Setting a New Standard for Big Cities

The Wall Street Journal: Seattle’s Very Big — and Very Complex — Wage Jump

Associations Now: Franchise Association Promises Lawsuit Over Seattle Minimum Wage Law

Associated Press: Seattle hikes minimum wage; will others follow?

The Wall Street Journal: Seattle City Council Approves $15 Minimum Hourly Wage

Reuters: Seattle approves hike in minimum wage to $15 per hour

USA TodaySeattle raises minimum wage to $15 an hour

The Washington Post: Seattle to enact $15 minimum wage

NPRSeattle Ordinance Gradually Increases Minimum Wage To $15

Gawker: Seattle Is Soon to Have the Highest Minimum Wage in America

ABC News Radio: Seattle City Council Approves Legislation to Raise Minimum Wage to $15

Examiner: Seattle latest state to increase the minimum wage

Associated PressSeattle’s $15 Minimum Wage: Questions And Answers

PJMedia: Seattle Declares War On Small Business With $15 An Hour Minimum Wage

BBC News: Seattle Votes For $15 Minimum Wage

Associated Press: Seattle City Council OKs Minimum Wage Increase To $15 An Hour, Making It The Nation’s Highest

LOCAL:

Los Angeles Times: Seattle raises minimum wage to $15 an hour, highest in U.S.

The Seattle Times: Seattle City Council approves historic $15 minimum wage

KIRO 7: Seattle To Get $15 Minimum Wage — Nation’s Highest

City & State NY: Mayor De Blasio Backs Proposal To Raise Local Minimum Wage

MyNorthwest.com: Franchise Group To Sue Over Seattle’s $15 Minimum Wage

New York Daily News: Mayor de Blasio Says President Obama’s $10.10 Minimum Wage Is Not Enough

Seattle Post Intelligencer: Seattle Enacts $15 Minimum Wage, A Phased In Big Dream

Q13 Fox: Seattle City Council unanimously approves $15 minimum wage plan

Puget Sound Business Journal: Franchise Group Plans To Sue Over Seattle’s Minimum Wage Rules

Complex City Guide: Seattle To Officially Increase Minimum Wage To $15 Per Hour

Puget Sound Business Journal: Seattle Council Approves Minimum Wage Boost

ELECTRONIC COVERAGE

Fox BusinessSubway franchisee serves Seattle

Fox BusinessFighting Seattle’s new minimum wage

Fox & FriendsFranchise group is planning to sue over Seattle wage hike

Seattle Minimum Wage Coverage-KING

Seattle Minimum Wage Coverage-KCPQ

Seattle Minimum Wage Coverage-KOMO

Seattle Minimum Wage Coverage-KIRO

Minimum Wage Report-CNN

Minimum Wage Report-MSNBC

Kshama Sawant Interview-KCPQ

570 KVI with Steve Caldeira

OTHER NOTABLE ARTICLES:

Inter Press Service: Low-Wage Workers Butt Heads With 21st Century Capital

Morning Sentinel: Harold Meyerson: Studies Show Raising Wages Creates Jobs

 

No Limit Agency and SMB Franchise Advisors raise money for VetFran

Nick Powills, CFE, founder and CEO of the full-service communications firm,No Limit Agency, came up with the idea for a dunk tank benefitting VetFran because he thought it would a fun way to build camaraderie for convention-goers at the No Limit Agency + SMB Franchise Advisors booth. The dunk tank was manned by No Limit staffers with guest appearances from clients, attendees and even some IFA team members. By the end of the convention, No Limit Agency and SMB Franchise Advisors had raised $1,085 for VetFran.

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IFA Responds to Union-Backed Protests at Quick Service Franchise Restaurants

 

Protesters led by the Service Employees International Union picketed several quick service franchise restaurants throughout the country while advocating for an increase in the federal minimum wage. The protesters demanded that the hourly wage floor, currently set at $7.25, be raised to $15 an hour. “Arbitrarily increasing the cost of labor in the current economy and on top of the costs already being levied on franchise owners by Obamacare’s employer mandate and recent tax increases will result in higher prices for consumers, lower foot traffic and sales for franchise owners, and ultimately lost entry-level jobs,” said IFA President & CEO Steve Caldeira in a statement responding to the protests.

The IFA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce also released research that highlights the unintended consequences of raising the minimum wage, including fewer jobs, reduced hours for workers and slower economic growth. Moreover, the research highlights that employers will make these and similar personnel decisions that will negatively impact workers commensurate with the size of the increase in the minimum wage, whether to a “living wage” of $15 an hour or more, and even to a lesser increase to $9 an hour. Read more