On Thursday, August 27, 2015, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that the waste management company Browning Ferris Industries is considered a joint employer with one of its subcontractors. Upon first glance, this decision may not seem very important, but the decision may affect millions of employees in the United States.
The ruling, voted on by board members appointed by President Barack Obama, voted 3-2 in favor of the joint employer relationship. It essentially means that parent companies are not free of obligations for its workers, even for employees working as subcontractors or working for franchises. The Board stated that, "It is not the goal of joint-employer law to guarantee the freedom of employers to insulate themselves from their legal responsibility to workers, while maintaining control of the workplace. Such an approach has no basis in the [National Labor Relations] Act or in federal labor policy."
How may this affect you? Although the new ruling is not applicable to all employees, for those who work for a franchised company or work as a subcontractor, this may be of importance. Let's say you work for a franchised McDonald's restaurant - this ruling now means that in certain areas the McDonald's corporation is responsible for some of the labor practices of your franchise. Just because the McDonald's corporation does not sign your checks does not mean that they are not involved, since many of the rules and regulations in your workplace are not determined by the franchisee, but are corporate policies. This also may mean that employees are more easily able to unionize, since they now will fall within the umbrella of the parent company.
Industry lobbyists claim this may have "a devastating economic impact," while worker advocacy groups and labor unions are applauding the decision. It remains to be seen how this will affect the economy or the millions of workers employed by franchises, but this may be beneficial in maintaining and protecting an individual's employee rights.
Source: Huffington Post, "The Labor Ruling McDonald's Has Been Dreading Just Became A Reality," David Jamieson, Aug. 27, 2015