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Federal Appeals Court Rules McDonald’s Is Not a ‘Joint Employer’

October 12, 2019

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.—A federal appeals court ruled Oct. 1 that McDonald’s wasn’t liable for a Bay Area franchisee’s violations of California wage law because the workers had failed to show it exercised enough control over their hours and wages. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a class-action suit by workers at franchises owned by the Haynes Family Limited Partnership. The workers charged that McDonald’s had induced Haynes to use a computerized payroll system that didn’t give them overtime pay until they’d worked 50 hours in a week, and not allowed the franchisee to change it to the state standard of 40 hours. But the 2–1 ruling held that McDonald’s was not their employer and that its rules for franchisees were about quality control. That type of control “is central to modern franchising and to the company’s ability to maintain brand standards,” Judge Susan Graber wrote. “These arguments don’t pass the test of common sense,” Bay Area McDonald’s worker Maria Paez responded in a statement. “The fact is that McDonald’s controls everything from the menus to training, to our timekeeping system.” The workers’ lawyer said they would likely appeal. Read more

October 12, 2019

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