Last year, we wrote about a bi-partisan group of state senators and members of the state assembly introducing legislation to regulate third-party food delivery services in Wisconsin. Although that legislation stalled, an expanded group of state legislators has re-introduced a similar bill with some slight modifications.
The 2023 proposed legislation seeks to create three requirements for third-party food delivery services:
First, third-party food delivery services must provide a “publicly accessible process” for restaurants to remove themselves from being listed by the service. The listing of restaurants without the establishment’s advance consent has caused significant issues with the ability of a particular restaurant to run its operations and control its own brand. Restaurants—particularly franchises—also run into issues with their trademark licensing when a delivery service uses such marks without the establishment or its franchisor’s consent. Under the proposed legislation, failure to comply with refusal requests could subject the offending service to civil forfeitures up to $10,000.
Second, the legislation would require delivery drivers to have basic knowledge of food safety principles, including personal hygiene and avoiding cross contamination. Restaurants go to great lengths to ensure that food is safely transported from the kitchen to the ordering customer, but restaurants have little control over what happens when a third party performs the delivery function. This part of the legislation is directed at ensuring that delivery drivers maintain certain baseline sanitary standards when delivering food away from the restaurant.
Third, the legislation would require the third-party food delivery service to inform the restaurant owner of the contents of a particular order and the time the order is placed. Restaurant kitchens have experienced issues with the flooding of orders, inconsistent terminology, and outdated menu items listed by the delivery services. The proposed bill is intended to address these issues and allow restaurants greater control over their output and internal operations.
It remains to be seen whether Wisconsin will join a growing list of states regulating third-party food delivery services. But, if the proposed bill is enacted, Stafford Rosenbaum LLP’s experienced dealership and franchise law team will be ready to assist both restaurants and delivery services in navigating their obligations and rights under the law.
Stafford Rosenbaum LLP is a full-service law firm with two convenient office locations in Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Over 140 years of dedication to businesses, governments, nonprofits, and individuals has proven that effective client communication continues to be the heart of our practice.
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