A judge rejected a proposed settlement between McDonald’s and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) over the accusation of unfair labor practices by the chain.
Administrative Law Judge Lauren Esposito wrote in a ruling issued late Tuesday that the settlement lacked “certain fundamental elements” for it be effective.
The judge also cited “many conflicting statements” made by McDonald’s throughout the negotiations.
“General Counsel and McDonald’s have made so many conflicting statements regarding McDonald’s obligations under the proposed settlements that there is significant doubt as to whether they have actually reached agreement,” she wrote.
Labor activists have been protesting at McDonald’s and other fast-food restaurants since 2012 over wages and other issues. Labor advocacy group Fight for $15 maintains that McDonald’s should take responsibility for the firing of employees who fought for higher wages during organized protests dating back to 2012.
The NLRB eventually issued complaints against McDonald’s in 2015, consolidating several other complaints made against franchisees in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Sacramento, New York, Chicago and Indianapolis. The board alleged McDonald's was a “joint employer” of its franchisees’ employees, and it was therefore liable for their treatment.
In March, McDonald's and NLRB reached a settlement in the joint-employer case. Details at the time were not revealed.
McDonald’s said the company is disappointed by the judge’s failure to approve the settlement, which will now prolong an “already lengthy and expensive litigation” and will further delay a resolution for franchise workers.
“The NLRB General Counsel, McDonald’s USA, and various franchisees negotiated a settlement agreement that is fair, reasonable, and provides the opportunity now for full and complete relief to all current and former franchisee employees affected by the litigation. McDonald’s and its franchisees are evaluating our options including appealing this decision. As we have maintained throughout this process, McDonald’s USA is not and has never been a joint employer with its franchisees,” the company said in a statement.
Mary Joyce Carlson, counsel for Fight for $15, released the following statement: “Today’s decision confirms what has been evident for months — that this proposed settlement was nothing more than a sham hammered out between McDonald’s and the Trump administration in an effort to hand the company a get-out-of-jail-free card for illegally harassing, surveilling and firing minimum-wage workers who joined together and spoke out for a better life.”
The two parties have 28 days to appeal. If no one appeals, additional hearings will commence in October.
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