Business owners in Georgia may already know that the federal National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is tasked with finding solutions in disputes between private businesses and employees. Recently, it reviewed the complaints of numerous McDonald’s franchise employees. As part of its review, the NLRB determined that franchise owners and McDonald’s Corp. are actually joint employers.
This determination was made based on the agency’s belief that the corporation strictly controls the business operations of its franchises. McDonald’s denies the claims, and says it is not responsible for the workers at its franchises. Therefore, it does not have anything to do with the complaints received from workers.
The complaints center around allegations that employees were harassed, put under surveillance and fired, among other things, for what the complaints contend were workers simply attempting to improve their working conditions. Many of the complainants participated in protests regarding increasing wages for fast-food workers. The NLRB scheduled hearings for March 2015 to determine whether disciplinary measures are warranted.
One of the hallmarks of a franchise is the fact that the owner has a stake in the business, but enjoys the use of an already established marketing plan and product base. Day-to-day operations, including interactions with employees, are the responsibility of the management of the individual Georgia franchise. However, if the line between franchiser and franchisee is blurred due to the amount of influence the corporation has over its franchises, it may be possible to establish liability on the part of the company. The implications of the NLRB’s ruling could affect more than just McDonald’s Corp.
Source: abc7chicago.com, “McDonald’s violated worker rights, National Labor Relations Board says”, Dec. 20, 2014