NBC: NLRB Ruling Redefining ‘Employer’ Could Have Big Impact If It Stands

“Thursday’s ruling by the NLRB involving sanitation company Browning-Ferris Industries was fairly narrow, concluding that both the company and a subcontractor are joint employers of workers. But employment law experts say that, if it stands, it could have big implications for large franchisors like McDonald’s and other fast-food operators as well as the growing number and type of companies that depend on contract or temporary help, including those in the so-called “sharing economy” like Uber.

“It definitely opens up or broadens the joint employer standard,” said Jeffrey Hirsch, a law professor at the University of North Carolina. “The degree to which it does that is too early to tell, but certainly for employers like franchisors and many others, it’s a potential new liability.”

The National Employment Law Project, a group supportive of labor unions, said that the issue is increasingly important because contract staffing has moved beyond its roots in white-collar clerical work into a broad array of industries, including traditional blue-collar and lower-skill jobs like construction, janitorial and food service.

“Subcontracted and other nonstandard work structures are prevalent in the industries experiencing the greatest job growth during the recovery. … These fast-growing industries are marked by high rates of outsourcing,” the group said in an amicus brief it filed in the NLRB case.”

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