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[Excerpt] The joint-employer doctrine is perhaps the hottest issue in labor and employment law for 2015 and the foreseeable future. In the September 2015 Browning-Ferris ("BFI”) decision, the National Labor Relations Board (the "NLRB" or the "Board"), the administrative agency that enforces the National Labor Relations Act (the "NLRA" or the "Act"), issued what is expected to be the first of two decisions, expanding the joint-employer doctrine. In the BFI decision, the so-called putative employer (e.g., the lessor of employees or a franchisor) is now considered the employer of individuals who had in the past been considered employees of the supplier employer. Like in Browning-Ferris, a number of McDonald's employees and the Service Employees International Union ("SEIU") are arguing that the world's largest franchisor is the joint employer of all its franchisees' employees. At first blush, one might believe that this is another esoteric labor and employment law issue that only lawyers and scholars care about. However, depending on how the Board and courts rule on this issue, the joint-employer doctrine could fundamentally change business in the United States by destroying the franchise model.


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