(Reuters) – McDonald’s Corp. defeated on Friday a union-backed group’s challenge to a deal with a U.S. employment agency over allegations that the company was helping franchisees across the country to suppress workers’ demonstrations demanding higher wages.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for DC Circuit rejected claims by the group, Fight for $ 15, that the 2019 settlement was insufficient because it did not resolve the key question of whether McDonald’s could be held liable for illegal practices by its franchisees.
Fight for $ 15 also claimed that a member of the National Labor Relations Board who participated in approving the settlement had a conflict of interest and should have been denied. DC Circuit on Friday said these claims were not properly presented to the court.
Illinois-based McDonald̵7;s and NLRB did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Not even a $ 15 lawyer for Fight.
Demonstrations organized by Fight for $ 15 swept across the country in 2012, with workers demanding a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour. The group began that year to file complaints to the NLRB on behalf of McDonald’s franchisees, claiming they were fired or disciplined for participating in the work organization.
The NLRB brought a lawsuit against McDonald’s and many franchisees in 2014. It was seen as a major test of the Obama-era NLRB’s attempts to expand the circumstances in which companies could be considered “joint employers” for franchisees or contract employees, requiring them to negotiate with trade unions and hold them accountable for violations of labor law.
McDonald’s has denied wrongdoing, claiming that it does not exercise sufficient control over franchise agreements to be considered a joint employer.
The NLRB chose to resolve the case after former President Donald Trump took office, which disappointed unions and labor advocates. The settlement required more than two dozen McDonald’s franchisees to pay up to $ 50,000 to individual workers, but McDonald’s liability was not addressed.
Under federal labor law, the board can settle claims against companies due to objections from unions or workers involved in a case.