NLRB Ends 5-Year Battle Over McDonald’s Status as Joint Employer

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ordered an administrative law judge (ALJ) to accept a settlement offered by McDonald’s USA, LLC in a case involving employees at Illinois franchises fired for their efforts in Fight for $15 picketing.

nlrb-ends-mcdonald's-lawsuitThe Obama-era NLRB and its general counsel supported the lawsuit, claiming the corporation was a joint employer liable for actions by its franchisees. Eventually, McDonald’s offered a cash settlement for all the fired employees, but at the same time denied joint employer status. The ALJ hearing the case denied the settlements. Yesterday, the Trump-era NLRB overruled the judge.

Citing its proposed rulemaking overturning the Obama-era standard on what constitutes a joint employer, the board instructed the judge to accept the settlements. In a statement, the agency announced: “The settlements do not impose joint and several liability on McDonald’s USA, LLC as a joint employer; however, they impose obligations on McDonald’s USA, LLC to support the remedies agreed to by McDonald’s Restaurants of Illinois and the franchisees.”

The Service Employees International Union-backed Fight for $15 called the settlement “illegitimate” and vowed to “forcefully” appeal the decision.

In an emailed statement, McDonald’s headquarters said it was “pleased” that the case had been concluded, and that the decision “allows our franchisees and their employees to move forward, and resolves all matters without any admission of wrongdoing.”

In a dissent, the NLRB’s sole Democrat, Lauren McFerran, said the settlements were “unreasonable,” and that with McDonald’s joint-employer status unaddressed, “it is likely that similar issues will arise in the future.”


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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