Cases & Deals

McDonald’s successfully resolves groundbreaking NLRB litigation

Client(s) McDonald's Corporation

Jones Day successfully represented McDonald's USA, LLC and McDonald's Restaurants of Illinois, Inc., in the largest consolidated National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) litigation matter ever and one of the most important labor cases in the United States today. The former General Counsel of the NLRB prosecuted McDonald's and over two dozen of its franchisees as alleged "joint employers" of non-supervisory employees who work(ed) at each respective franchisees' restaurants.

The NLRB issued complaints against McDonald's and its franchisees in December 2014, over two years after SEIU-funded organizations (including the "Fight for $15" organization) filed the first of nearly 300 unfair labor practice charges alleging McDonald's and its franchisees are joint employers. The consolidated case involves thirty one different restaurants located in five states and alleged 181 unrelated violations of the Act.

The trial began in March 2016 and continued until January 19, 2018, when the Administrative Law Judge ordered a 60-day stay of the proceedings for the parties to explore settlement. A comprehensive settlement was reached between the General Counsel, McDonald's USA, and all franchisees, but the Administrative Law Judge refused to approve the settlement in a July 17, 2018 decision. McDonald's appealed the Judge's decision to the full Board, which reversed the decision and ordered the Judge to approve the settlement agreements on December 12, 2019.

Our Labor & Employment attorneys have defended McDonald’s in these actions since the first unfair labor practice charge was filed in late-2012. Moreover, Jones Day served as counsel throughout the trial and on appeal, and successfully coordinated the trial defense across dozens of respondents. A precedent holding franchisors liable for the unlawful conduct of their franchisees – which was successfully avoided here – would have momentous ramifications for a vast segment of the U.S. economy.

McDonald’s USA, LLC, et al., Case Nos. 02-CA-093893