Federal Court Strikes Down NLRB’s New Joint Employer Rule, Leaving 2020 Rule in Place for Now

The 2023 rule, which was set to take effect on March 11, would have expanded the joint employer test to include reserved and indirect control — potentially exposing franchisors to claims that their franchise agreements and brand standards make them joint employers of their franchisee’s employees for purposes of collective bargaining and labor disputes. The federal district court concluded that the 2023 rule is unlawful because it would expand joint employment beyond the outer limits set by the common-law definition of employment. Other courts are likely to weigh in. The NLRB may appeal to the Fifth Circuit. A parallel suit brought by the Service Employees International Union regarding the scope of the 2023 rule is currently pending before the D.C. Circuit. Either or both of those cases may ultimately go to the U.S. Supreme Court. We conclude with two relevant handouts that identify franchisors’ best practices.

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