Judge Allows NLRB Counsel Two-Month Stay in McDonald’s Joint Employer Case

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The general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board has been granted a two-month stay as the enduring trial continues over whether McDonald's Corporation and its franchisees should be ruled as joint employers related to labor law violations.

The "two-month pause" will hopefully allow the parties to resolve their issues, after a three-year court battle.

Administrative Law Judge Lauren Esposito issued her order on January 19, 2018, after the NLRB general counsel filed a motion to stay proceedings, stating that McDonald's initiated discussions last December regarding a "global settlement of all unfair labor practice charges pending against it." The judge said the general counsel voiced the opinion that additional time is required to evaluate the impact of two board decisions that were issued on December 14, 2017, HyBrand Industries Contractors, Ltd., and The Boeing Co., on the record evidence and a potential settlement in the McDonald's case.

The general counsel also argued that a settlement "will result in prompt remedial relief for the alleged discriminates and other employees affected by the alleged violations," and conserve "significant resources for all parties involved." The charging parties contended that the timing of the requested stay was not optimal. The order then states, "The hearing in this matter opened on March 31, 2015, and the record thus far is comprised of over 150 days of testimony and hundreds of exhibits."

Esposito said in last week's order when the hearing was to resume on January 22, that McDonald's planned to present two additional witnesses on its direct case, which the parties would present any permissible rebuttal and sur-rebuttal evidence, and the record will close." She said the case could easily be finished during the 12 days of hearing scheduled for January and February. The charging parties stated that McDonald's was scheduled to present a "key witness in support of its long-asserted defense that the charging parties were engaged in an attack on the McDonald's brand, an expert witness whose testimony has been the subject of copious litigation in and of itself."

Nevertheless, Law Judge Esposito said she felt the requested stay of the hearing was warranted, and all the parties apparently believe that a stay of the proceedings will be conducive to productive settlement negotiations. She said, "Given that they are within days of completing the record in this protracted and arduous proceeding, it is my sincere hope that during the requested stay the parties will make an assiduous and good faith effort toward conclusively resolving this case, the severed cases, and other pending charges involving McDonald's."

The hearing was adjourned until March 19, 2018. The parties were instructed to submit a written statement regarding the status of settlement discussions on February 23, 2018, and to schedule twelve additional hearing dates from March 19, to April 10, 2018.

NLRB Case Info McDonald's USA, LLC, A Joint Employer, et al.

Janet Sparks