McD’s disputes NLRB’s ‘joint employer’ tag
McDonald’s has always been known for zealously promoting and protecting its brand and working closely with franchisees to make their operations among the most successful anywhere. It is that very relationship that led the general counsel of the National Labor Relation Board (NLRB) to conclude McDonald’s is a "joint employer" with franchisees when it comes to the treatment of workers under federal labor laws.
The fast food chain disputes the NLRB general counsel’s conclusion. "McDonald’s does not direct or co-determine the hiring, termination, wages, hours, or any other essential terms and conditions of employment of our franchisees’ employees — which are the well-established criteria governing the definition of a joint employer," said Heather Smedstad, senior vice president human resources, McDonald’s USA, in a statement.
Micah Wissinger, an attorney who represents hourly workers for McDonald’s in New York, said McDonald’s corporate is involved in all aspects of their franchisees’ businesses including conducting regular onsite inspections. "There’s really no doubt who’s in charge," he told The Associated Press.
Since November 2012, workers that have taken part in the "Fight for 15" campaign, which seeks a minimum wage of $15-an-hour for fast food employees, have filed 181 complaints with the NLRB, alleging illegal treatment including firings for protected labor activities. The agency has found 43 cases that have merit, 68 that do not and 64 are pending investigation.
Ms. Smedstad said that making the determination that it is a joint employer would "change the rules for thousands of small businesses" and upset "decades of established law regarding the franchise model in the United States."
As would be expected, franchisor and restaurant industry groups have come out in support of McDonald’s while labor organizations endorse the NLRB counsel’s conclusion
- NLRB Office of the General Counsel Authorizes Complaints Against McDonald’s Franchisees and Determines McDonald’s, USA, LLC is a Joint Employer – National Labor Relations Board
- Statement on NLRB Decision – McDonald’s
- McDonald’s Could Be Liable for Labor Practices – The Associated Press/ABC News
- NLRB: McDonald’s considered ‘joint employer’ with franchisees – Nation’s Restaurant News
What effects, if upheld, will the NLRB general counsel’s ruling have on McDonald’s in the U.S.? What will it mean for other franchised businesses?