SKINNY PAYCHECK? LIVABLE WAGE ORDINANCE TESTS SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS OWNER
This case discusses the fallout over an exemption to a city’s municipal livable wage ordinance (LWO) that was granted to The Skinny Pancake crepe restaurant after it was awarded a 5-year exclusive (renewable) contract to provide food and beverage services at Vermont’s Burlington International Airport (BTV). Benjy Adler, owner of the restaurant, thought winning the contract would be seen as a “local boy makes good” story; he and city officials were blindsided when they faced a backlash over the exemption to Burlington’s livable wage ordinance (LWO). The controversy left Adler, Burlington Mayor, and airport officials having to explain why The Skinny Pancake, an otherwise socially responsible business, shouldn’t have to pay its employees a living wage. During the controversy, Adler’s business and reputation as a socially responsible business owner suffered. This descriptive case introduces the concept of a livable wage; highlights the challenges socially responsible business owners face from multiple stakeholders; and shows how public policy impacts small businesses.
1) Describe the concept of a livable wage and the arguments for and against providing it;
2) Explain the challenges socially responsible business owners face from multiple stakeholders including municipal government, customers, and community activists;
3) Recognize how public policy (e.g. Livable Wage Ordinances) impacts business and its human resource practices.