Labor advocates in Minnesota and around the country might be monitoring developments relating to a series of complaints against McDonald’s franchises being considered by the National Labor Relations Board. The board ruled on July 29 that the fast food company could be named as a joint employer in the complaints. McDonald’s has long held that their restaurant franchises are independently run businesses. They say that the parent company should not be involved in disputes relating to such matters as wage and overtime laws.
A McDonald’s representative said that the company would contest the ruling, but labor leaders say that the company has a great deal of influence over how its franchises are run. An example of this came to light in March 2014 after fast food workers in three states filed lawsuits. McDonald’s software used to monitor labor costs was shown to prevent workers from clocking in if labor cost to sales percentage ratios were too high.
The NLRB has received 181 complaints involving McDonald’s since 2012, and they have so far determined that 43 of them have merit. Some complaints were found to have no merit, and others are still awaiting a decision. If no settlement is reached in these cases, McDonald’s could be named as respondents. The International Franchise Association has joined McDonald’s in opposition to the labor board decision. The association says that the ruling could limit the control that franchise owners have over their businesses.
Many businesses face intense competition and operate with slim margins, and they often seek innovative ways to lower costs. However, wage and overtime laws exist to protect workers from unfair treatment, and an employment law attorney may take legal action against employers on behalf of workers when these laws are violated.
Source: ABC News, “McDonald’s Could Be Liable for Labor Practices“, Candice Choi, July 29, 2014