Q&A with Leonard Court
Joint employer issue draws
criticism from business owners
Q: Describe the recent National Labor Relations Board action concerning the joint employer question.
A: On July 29, General Counsel Richard Griffin announced that he authorized complaints of unfair labor practices in at least 43 cases against McDonald’s USA, claiming that McDonald’s was the joint employer of employees working at facilities that were operated by local franchisees. Earlier, General Counsel Griffin urged the Labor Relations Board to adopt a new standard for deciding when companies could be a joint employer. He used the franchise relationship as one example of the reason for urging the change.
Q: How might this action impact the business community?
A: The action is dramatic departure from the current Labor Relations Board joint employer test. It has already drawn severe criticism from the business community. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation, the National Council of Chain Restaurants and the Restaurant Association all have issued statements criticizing this effort to hold the national franchisor responsible for the actions of the local franchisee.
Q: What is next for these cases?
A: If the cases don’t settle, then they will be tried before administrative law judges of the Labor Relations Board. Undoubtedly, those decisions will be appealed to the board, which then will decide whether to retain the current test or to adopt the much more expansive approach urged by the General Counsel. If the board does the latter, it will be the latest in a controversial series of decisions trying to expand the coverage of the board.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER