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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Franchisees’ Legal Concerns as Joint Employer Rule Lingers | Franchise News

The latest joint employer rule from the National Labor Relations Board has sparked controversy in the franchise community, with potential implications for franchisors and franchisees in terms of shared liability for labor law violations. Indemnification clauses in legal agreements are a key factor in shifting costs and risks to franchisees. These clauses may lead to franchisees bearing the brunt of litigation expenses, especially when lawsuits are related to brand systems.

Legal experts like Andrew Malzahn and J. Michael Dady emphasize the importance of drafting specific addendums to narrow the scope of indemnification clauses and ensure fairness for franchisees. The concern is heightened brand oversight if the new rule is enacted, as franchisors may exert more control to avoid liability issues. The potential for increased involvement in franchise operations could lead to challenges for single-store franchisees lacking sophisticated resources.

While the joint employer rule was blocked in federal court, the future remains uncertain as the NLRB has appealed the decision. The rule reversal by the Biden administration has left the franchise community in a state of frustration, with conflicting views on the extent of franchisor liability. The Coalition of Franchisee Associations advocates for a balanced approach that acknowledges cases where franchisors can be considered joint employers without imposing undue burden on franchisees.

As the legal battle continues, it is essential for franchisors and franchisees to stay informed about developments in joint employer regulations. Finding a middle ground that accommodates the interests of both parties is crucial to moving forward and ensuring a fair distribution of responsibilities. The ongoing debate surrounding joint employer relationships highlights the complexity of franchise agreements and the need for clear, equitable legal protections for all stakeholders.

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