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McDonald’s ‘joint employer’ trial delayed

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The first trial to determine if McDonald’s USA is a “joint employer” of franchisees’ staffs was put on hold Friday because of the presiding judge’s concerns about the technology that would be used to communicate with remote participants.

The suit brought by the National Labor Relations Board was scheduled to begin today in New York City. A new start date has not been set.

The legal proceedings will be closely watched by franchisors and franchisees as the first test of the NLRB’s contention that McDonald’s is a co-employer of franchisees’ staff. If Administrative Law Judge Lauren Esposito agrees with the regulatory board’s argument, McDonald’s could be held liable for violations of workers’ protections by franchisees.

If Esposito affirms the NLRB’s designation of McDonald’s as a joint employer, other franchisors could similarly be vulnerable to legal actions stemming from franchisees’ employment policies and practices. The franchise community has identified the change in responsibilities as a top concern.

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