Workers Score NLRB Win

From the USW

Workers scored a major win earlier this month when a federal court upheld an Obama-era National Labor Review Board (NLRB) ruling finding that corporations could be held responsible for issues like wage discrimination or illegal job termination, even if the employees were subcontractors or working at a franchised company.

The D.C. appellate court affirmed that a business could be considered a so-called joint-employer if it exercised a certain level of “indirect control” over employees’ working conditions. This decision is bound to shake up business groups’ plans to overturn the joint-employer standard, something many believed was certain to happen under the now Republican-controlled NLRB.

“The court is very clear that the determination of who is an employer is a legal question, not a policy question,” said Sam Bagenstos, a University of Michigan law professor. “And for this question, which is determined by common law, the courts decide that without giving any particular deference to the NLRB.”

The original saga of this case began in 2013 when a union petitioned the NLRB to represent Leadpoint Business Services workers, with Browning-Ferris named as a joint-employer, on the basis that the latter also controls the contractors’ wages and working conditions. Using its new and expanded joint-employer test, the NLRB ruled in favor of the workers, prompting Browning-Ferris to fight the decision ever since.

But not anymore.

This decision will also likely affect labor advocates and campaigns, such as Fight for 15, who have been arguing in court for the last few years that McDonald’s should be held liable as a joint-employer for the fast-food workers who were fired from their jobs when they engaged in nationwide protests for higher pay.

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Posted In: Union Matters

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