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The joint employment issue is high on the agenda of the main employment agencies, including the NLRB, the Department of Labor (DOL) and the EEOC.  While the joint employment issue has been litigated in a variety of forums, perhaps the most publicized forum was the NLRB case involving McDonald's, in which the Obama-era NLRB General Counsel contended that McDonald's and its franchisees were joint employers. 

The litigation continued for almost three years, and although a settlement agreement was reached, an NLRB administrative law judge denied motions to approve the settlement agreements.  On special appeal to the Board, the Board remanded the case to the judge with the instructions to approve the settlement agreements.  Applying various "reasonableness" factors, the majority found, contrary to the judge, that the settlement agreements are reasonable, they provide a full remedy to all affected employees, and accepting the settlement agreements would serve the policies of the Labor Act.  Significantly, the settlements do not impose joint liability on McDonald's, as the liabilities are basically limited to the franchisees.  Thus, under the settlement, McDonald's avoids any joint employer finding.

Wimberly, Lawson, Steckel, Schneider & Stine

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