What Impact Does the Pending McDonald's/NLRB Ruling Have for My Business?

What is the McDonalds/NLRB situation?  In short, the NLRB has consolidated 310 complaints of unfair labor practices against McDonalds’ franchisees.  These ULPs were not against McDonalds corporate, but against the separately owned franchisees who controlled the terms and conditions of the employees’ employment, including hiring, discipline and firing.  Enter the $15/hour minimum wage campaign and charges (310, to date) against these franchisees from their employees and prospective employees, complaining their employer, the franchisee, violated the National Labor Relations Act in some manner.  McDonalds corporate has responded to the $15/hour campaign with a unified national response providing the NLRB with some ammunition to argue that McDonalds is exerting control over the labor relations and acting as a joint employer with its franchisees; meaning it could be liable jointly with the franchisee for violations of the NLRA committed by the franchisee. All indications are that the NLRB will confirm that McDonalds has joint liability with its franchisees for these ULPs.

If the NLRB proceeds as anticipated it could have a significant impact for certain businesses, particularly those businesses in a franchisee/franchisor relationship.  It is also possible that the NLRB’s rationale goes beyond traditional franchisee/franchisor relationships and expands to cover businesses that use independent contractors, including temporary placement agencies.  In short, the NLRB in coming months and years could seriously alter the landscape for what we traditionally consider to be the employer/employee relationship.


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