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NLRB Staffing Agency Decision Could Impact Restaurants

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Last updated on August 31st, 2015 at 01:36 pm

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a decision in the Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI) case, holding that BFI is considered a “joint employer” with a temporary staffing agency that supplied employees to BFI. According to the National Restaurant Association (NRA), the decision has broad implications for multiple industries, including restaurants.

The NLRB, through a 3-2 vote, concluded that BFI had indirect and direct control over employees supplied by the staffing agency. That means BFI can be held jointly liable for unfair labor practices involving those employees.

“While we continue to review the NLRB’s ruling, it appears that once again the board is stacking the deck against small businesses,” said NRA’s Angelo Amador. “The board is overturning years of established law that has worked to help grow business and feed our economy.”

Amador noted that the NLRB was using its new rationale to dismantle the franchisor-franchisee model, which stifles entrepreneurship and small businesses’ ability to continue to create jobs in an increasingly challenging economic and regulatory environment.

“The decision to upend the joint-employer standard will have dire consequences on franchisees’ decisions to grow and expand their businesses, jeopardizing economic growth in communities across the country,” he said.

According to the NRA, the case involved BFI and a union that attempted to organize subcontracted workers at one of the firm’s recycling facilities. In the BFI case, the NLRB ruled that the waste management firm was a joint employer with Leadpoint, a company that supplied temporary workers. BFI had indirect and direct control over essential terms and conditions of employment, the board said.

NLRB general counsel Richard Griffin argued that a franchisor should be considered a joint employer and could be held liable for the hiring practices of its franchise operators.

The ruling was applauded in a statement by the Teamsters Union, the union involved in organizing the recycling plant, which called the decision a victory for workers across America.

“This decision will make a tremendous difference for workers’ rights on the job. Employers will no longer be able to shift responsibility for their workers and hide behind loopholes to prevent workers from organizing or engaging in collective bargaining,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters general president.

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