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Labor Board Delivers Victory for Low-Wage McDonald's Workers

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(Photo: SEIU via Twitter)

In a ruling being hailed by union groups and wage rights advocates, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found Tuesday that fast food giant McDonald's can be considered a joint employer of workers employed by its franchise restaurants, meaning the corporation can be found liable for labor and wage violations that previously only franchisees could be found liable for.

The NLRB's general council stated that he "found merit in some of the charges" that McDonald's "violated the rights of employees as a result of activities surrounding employee protests." Specifically, 43 cases were found to have merit with 64 still pending investigation.

The decision comes in response to 181 separate cases filed since November 2012 by McDonald's workers alleging that their involvement in minimum wage protests resulted in unfair retaliation, including firings and cut hours, by their employer.

"Employers like McDonald's seek to avoid recognizing the rights of their employees by claiming that they are not really their employer, despite exercising control over crucial aspects of the employment relationship," argued labor law professor Julius Getman. "McDonald's should no longer be able to hide behind its franchisees."

While McDonald's plans on contesting the decision, if upheld it could have broad implications for labor and union rights nationwide.

The decision revolves around the concept of what level of control a parent company must have over a franchise's operational practices in order to be considered a "joint employer."    


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