NLRB hits McDonald’s as joint employer

McDonald’s and its franchisees illegally retaliated against employees for participating in union-related activities, the National Labor Relations Board’s top lawyer alleged Friday in a case with sweeping industry implications.

NLRB general counsel Richard Griffin announced Friday he will issue 13 complaints involving 78 charges against franchises and McDonald’s USA, LLC.

Though many of these alleged labor violations were committed by independent franchise owners, Griffin ruled earlier this year that McDonald’s can be held liable for those actions as a so-called joint employer, leaving the corporatrion — and potentially other franchisors — exposed to such claims.

McDonald’s said the decision will “strike at the heart of the franchise system.”

“McDonald’s is disappointed with the board’s decision to overreach and move forward with these charges,” the company said in a statement.

“These allegations are driven in large part by a two-year, union-financed campaign that has targeted the McDonald’s brand and impacted McDonald’s restaurants,” it added.

McDonald’s argued it shouldn’t be held responsible for labor decisions made by independent franchise operators, but labor groups accused the popular fast food chain of “inventing a make-believe world in which responsibility for wages and working conditions falls squarely on the shoulder of franchisees.”