Joint Employer

Franchisees Team Up to Urge Congress to Examine 'Joint Employer' Standard

The franchise industry isn't resting in its opposition to the National Labor Relations Board's definition of "joint employer." 

On Tuesday, a group of business owners and franchise industry leaders launched the Coalition to Save Local Businesses (CSLB), a lobbying group seeking to convince Congress of the negative impact redefining the concept of "joint employer" would have on the franchise industry. Coalition co-chairs include franchisees from Golden Corral, College Hunks Hauling Junk and Choice Hotels.

"To me, this is not a Republican or Democratic issue. This is an issue about hard working people retaining their ability to own, operate, and manage their own local business," Matthew Patinkin, a coalition co-chair and Auntie Anne’s Pretzel’s, Red Mango Frozen Yogurt and Jamba Juice franchisee, said in a statement. "If the NLRB decides to change the definition of who is the employer, it will certainly impact the way I do business, and could have very negative consequences."

Related: Judge Rules Against Joint Employer Responsibility in Minimum Wage Case

The NLRB made its controversial decision to consider McDonald's corporate a joint employer in July 2014. The decision means that McDonald's corporate can be held responsible for employee complaints of unlawful behavior, such as wage theft and firing employees for protesting minimum wage.

The agency doubled down on its decision in December, issuing complaints against McDonald's franchisees and McDonald's corporate as joint employers in 86 alleged labor violations.

The CSLB, the International Franchise Association (IFA) and other franchising groups say these decisions go against a long history of independent control by franchisees on topics of employment, such as hiring, firing and wages. According to these groups, the joint employer decisions threaten the very model that franchising is built on, and could threaten the livelihood and autonomy of franchisees. Meanwhile, the NLRB has remained tightlipped on the reasoning behind the decision, making it difficult to determine if its influence is limited to McDonald's or if it could affect the wider franchise industry. 

Related: McDonald's Caps Off a Truly Terrible Year With Falling Sales, Discrimination Lawsuit

Edition: December 2016

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