WASHINGTON – The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled this week that the McDonald’s Corporation was liable for labor and wage violations perpetrated by individual McDonald’s franchises, and that it was equally liable for the poor quality of food served at those franchises.
The NLRB’s general counsel, Richard F. Griffin Jr., said he found merit in 43 of 181 claims brought against McDonald’s by its workers, accusing McDonald’s restaurants of illegally firing, threatening or otherwise penalizing workers for their pro-labor activities. He also found merit in 72 of 103 claims brought against the fast-food giant by consumers accusing the chain of serving horrible food.
“After randomly sampling the offerings at a number of McDonald’s franchises in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, I find many of the complaints are extremely valid,” said Griffin Jr., “The Big Mac, in particular, was revolting.”
“Employers like McDonald’s seek to avoid recognizing the rights of their employees by claiming that they are not really their employer, despite exercising control over crucial aspects of the employment relationship. McDonald’s should no longer be able to hide behind its franchisees,” said Julius Getman, a labor law professor at the University of Texas. “This goes for their food as well. The recipe for the Buffalo Ranch McChicken Sandwich is handed down from corporate headquarters. To claim the unwelcome gastronomical effects of eating the foul thing is solely the responsibility of the franchise is ludicrous.”
Heather Smedstad, a senior vice president for McDonald’s, said the ruling was wrong because the company does not determine or help determine decisions on hiring, wages or other employment matters, nor does it cook any of the actual food served by its franchisees. “McDonald’s also believes that this decision changes the rules for thousands of small businesses, and goes against decades of established law,” she said. “Does this now mean that Taco Bell is on the hook for Chalupa Supremes served in their franchises? What about Burger King and their Rodeo Chicken Sandwich? How about Outback Steakhouse and their Bloomin’ Onions? Where does it stop?”
McDonalds is planning to appeal the ruling, and experts predict the case will ultimately wind up before the Supreme Court, which may work in McDonald’s favor as the five-member conservative majority of the court is widely known to be KFC junkies.