A Historic Rule Has Held McDonald’s Liable for Labor Abuses. The GOP Is Close to Undoing It.

In what was hailed as a major victory for labor unions, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in 2015 redefined what constitutes a “joint employer,” ruling that any company that has “indirect” control over a business can be held responsible if that business violates labor law. In practice this has meant that a corporation such as McDonald’s can be held liable if its franchises are illegally withholding pay to employees or otherwise breaking the law. Now, a new bill could reverse that decision and make it much harder to hold large corporations accountable.

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Judy Conti, federal advocacy coordinator at the National Employment Law Project (NELP) tells In These Times that this bill would be terrible for small business owners, because it “will leave smaller businesses responsible for all liability even when their contractors force conditions upon them that lead to violations in the first place.”

If successful, the bill would mark a historic shift in labor law. Millions of low-wage workers across the country would be directly impacted, losing a key mechanism to protect their rights on the job, while corporations which regularly escape liability would gain protections.

“The Congressional attempt to gut the decades-long protections of the joint employer doctrine is a transparent attempt to protect large companies that outsource their work in unethical ways from liability for those actions,” Conti says. “It’s a lose-lose for small business and workers. Only those employers with coffers large enough to employ corporate lobbyists will benefit if this bill is signed into law.”

Read the full article at In These Times.


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