Success: McDonald’s Held Accountable for Labor Abuses

Ronald McDonald

Target: Richard F. Griffin, Jr., General Counsel with the National Labor Relations Board

Goal: Applaud the labor board for ruling that McDonald’s can be considered a joint employer and held liable for the labor rights violations of its franchise operators

Employees of McDonald’s franchised restaurants have gone on strike numerous times in recent years, protesting low wages and various labor abuses. To make matters worse several franchise owners are accused of retaliating against workers who participated in the protests. Although 181 cases have been filed against McDonald’s since late 2012, as reported by Common Dreams, the fast food giant has claimed zero responsibility since technically the franchised locations are independently owned and operated. In a decision that shakes the foundation of such an argument, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently ruled McDonald’s to be a “joint employer” in such instances and therefore liable for the labor abuses of its franchisees.

Unions and other pro-labor groups have pressured the company to stand up for its franchise employees, as did a previous ForceChange petition. The NLRB’s ruling helps protect low-wage workers among the most vulnerable to intimidation and abuse. Many employees had their hours cut or else were fired from their jobs after participating in protests. McDonald’s profits tremendously from their labor, and even from franchise owners’ attempts at retaliation which help keep wages and benefits low and workers in fear of vindictive firings.

Nearly all of McDonald’s U.S. restaurants are operated as franchise locations. While the company does plan to appeal the ruling, if upheld it has the potential to improve working conditions for the millions of Americans employed by some sort of franchise according to Common Dreams. Applaud the NLRB for standing up for the rights of low-wage, fast food workers.


Dear Mr. Griffin,

Despite the fact that McDonald’s controls nearly every aspect of franchise operations, the company has attempted to avoid any responsibility for franchise owners’ labor abuses. The recent ruling of the NLRB, which states that McDonald’s can be considered a joint employer and therefore be held liable for such violations, is a tremendous win for low-wage workers and for human rights in general.

Workers should not live in fear of retaliation when they legally and peacefully protest unfair conditions. Some of the accusations leveled against McDonald’s describe clear legal and ethical wrongdoing, and it is only just that the company be held accountable. By exerting pressure on its franchise owners to uphold workers rights McDonald’s can help end this vicious pattern of intimidation and abuse.

Thank you for ruling in favor of the millions of Americans working for some form of franchise, many of them struggling to survive on minimum wage. May the decision stand up against all attempts by the company to overturn it.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Simon Burchell via Wikimedia Commons

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