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Trump's NLRB Lets McDonald's Off the Hook

The board has ruled against workers in the long running joint employer case

Brian Young's picture
Dec 13, 2019

For years, companies with franchises like McDonald’s have fought the notion that the corporation is responsible for illegal activity that takes place on the franchisee's watch. They claimed that while they are doing business as McDonald’s they aren’t the company’s problem. With the Fight for $15, workers contested this notion and attempted to hold the corporate office responsible. The four-year legal battle has seen its newest turn with a recent decision by the NLRB.

The case was first filed in 2015 by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The union accused McDonald's and its franchisees of retaliating against hundreds of workers who supported the Fight For $15 labor movement. The case was being prosecuted by Obama’s pro-worker NLRB. The prosecutor in the case asked the judge Lauren Esposito to consider McDonald’s a joint employer, meaning that they would be liable for the actions of their franchisee.

Of course, the NLRB’s position on the case changed in 2017 with the election of Trump. This change caused the NLRB lawyer to propose a settlement just days before the end of the trial. At the time, Judge Esposito rejected the deal calling it baffling and unreasonable. McDonald’s continued to appeal and brought the case to the NLRB. On Thursday, the board issued their ruling.

In the NLRB decision, the board ruled that McDonald's should not be held responsible for the labor practices of its franchisees. They also ordered the Judge to approve the settlement.

"Trump Administration agencies, including the NLRB, are making decisions in the interest of corporations like McDonald's and not the American people or the law. McDonald's is walking away with a get-out-of-jail-free card after illegally retaliating against low-paid workers who were fighting to be paid enough to feed their families," said SEIU.

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