McDonald's Employer Status

Benjamin Sachs

Benjamin Sachs is the Kestnbaum Professor of Labor and Industry at Harvard Law School and a leading expert in the field of labor law and labor relations. He is also faculty director of the Center for Labor and a Just Economy. Professor Sachs teaches courses in labor law, employment law, and law and social change, and his writing focuses on union organizing and unions in American politics. Prior to joining the Harvard faculty in 2008, Professor Sachs was the Joseph Goldstein Fellow at Yale Law School.  From 2002-2006, he served as Assistant General Counsel of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in Washington, D.C.  Professor Sachs graduated from Yale Law School in 1998, and served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. His writing has appeared in the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, the Columbia Law Review, the New York Times and elsewhere.  Professor Sachs received the Yale Law School teaching award in 2007 and in 2013 received the Sacks-Freund Award for Teaching Excellence at Harvard Law School.  He can be reached at [email protected].

Among the sillier claims in the debate over whether McDonald’s is a joint employer of its franchise employees is the one made today by International Franchise Association president Steve Caldeira.  Speaking about McDonald’s decision to raise wages for the approximately 5% of employees who work directly for the chain (and not for franchises), Caldeira said:

Today’s announcement is a reminder to policymakers, government agencies and unelected regulators at the NLRB and the Department of Labor that McDonald’s and all franchisors are not joint employers with their franchisees and make separate and independent decisions about the wages and benefits for employees over which they exercise direct and immediate control.

The idea, I suppose, is that McDonald’s can prove it doesn’t employ 95% of its workforce by not giving 95% of its workforce a raise.

Brian Mahoney, at Politico, has a good analysis of the wage increase.

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