strategic vision. In addition, we believe our current executive officers, each of whom is an at-will employee, are creating a business strategy and culture at our company that will position us for future success, and these features may be difficult to replicate under another management team. If a new Chief Executive Officer does not successfully continue our business strategy or implement new strategies to improve our business, or if the change in Chief Executive Officer or other factors result in other changes to our senior leadership team, our growth prospects or future operating results may be adversely impacted. Additionally, if our company culture or operations were to deteriorate following our upcoming change in leadership, we may be adversely impacted as well.
Regulatory and Legal Risks
Governmental regulation in one or more of the following areas may adversely affect our existing and future operations and results, including by harming our ability to open new restaurants or increasing our operating costs.
Employment and Immigration Regulations
We are subject to various federal, state and local laws governing our relationship with and other matters pertaining to our employees, including wage and hour laws, requirements to provide meal and rest periods or other benefits, family leave mandates, requirements regarding working conditions and accommodations to certain employees, citizenship or work authorization and related requirements, insurance and workers’ compensation rules and anti-discrimination laws. Complying with these rules subjects us to substantial expense and can be cumbersome, and can also expose us to liabilities from claims for non-compliance. For example, a number of lawsuits have been filed against us alleging violations of federal and state laws regarding employee wages and payment of overtime, meal and rest breaks, employee classification, employee record-keeping and related practices with respect to our employees. We incur legal costs to defend, and we could suffer losses from, these and similar cases, and the amount of such losses or costs could be significant. In addition, several states and localities in which we operate and the federal government have from time to time enacted minimum wage increases, changes to eligibility for overtime pay, paid sick leave and mandatory vacation accruals, and similar requirements and these changes could increase our labor costs. Changes in U.S. healthcare laws could also adversely impact us if they result in significant new welfare and benefit costs or increased compliance expenses.
We also are audited from time to time for compliance with work authorization requirements, and audit activity and federal criminal and civil investigations in this area are described in more detail above under “Risks Related to Operating in the Restaurant Industry—Our business could be adversely affected by increased labor costs or difficulties in finding and retaining top performing employees,” as well as in Note 10. “Commitments and Contingencies” in our consolidated financial statements included in Item 8. “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.” Unauthorized workers may subject us to fines or penalties, and if any of our workers are found to be unauthorized our business may be disrupted as we try to replace lost workers with additional qualified employees. On the other hand, in the event we wrongfully reject work authorization documents, or if our compliance procedures are found to have a disparate impact on a protected class such as a racial minority or based on the citizenship status of applicants, we could be found to be in violation of anti-discrimination laws. We could experience adverse publicity arising from enforcement activity related to work authorization compliance, anti-discrimination compliance, or both, that negatively impacts our brand and may make it more difficult to hire and keep qualified employees. Moreover, as described above under “Risks Related to Operating in the Restaurant Industry—Our business could be adversely affected by increased labor costs or difficulties in finding and retaining top performing employees,” the office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigated us for possible criminal and civil securities law violations relating to our employee work authorization compliance and related disclosures and statements as well. Any potential future investigations in this area may be expensive and distracting, and could subject us to fines, reputational damage, and other liabilities that could be significant.
Additionally, while we do not currently have any unionized employees, union organizers have engaged in efforts to organize our employees and those of other restaurant companies. If a significant portion of our employees were to become union organized, our labor costs could increase and our efforts to maintain a culture appealing only to top performing employees could be impaired. Potential changes in labor laws, including the possible passage of legislation designed to make it easier for employees to unionize, could increase the likelihood of some or all of our employees being subjected to greater organized labor influence, and could have an adverse effect on our business and financial results by imposing requirements that could potentially increase our costs, reduce our flexibility and impact our employee culture.
Americans with Disabilities Act and Similar State Laws
We are subject to the U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, and similar state laws that give civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities in the context of employment, public accommodations and other areas. We have incurred substantial legal fees in connection with ADA-related complaints in the past, and we may in the future have to modify restaurants, for example by adding access ramps or redesigning certain architectural features, to provide service to or make reasonable accommodations for