Sen. Dean Heller Meets with Local Business Owners on Joint Employer Issue

Ultimately, Congress will have to come up with a way of making sure hundreds of thousands of locally-owned businesses are not put at risk by an expanded joint-employer standard.  As such, it was incredibly encouraging to hear supportive words for local businesses from Nevada’s junior U.S. Senator, Dean Heller ( R- NV), this week.

“I’ll continue to support your efforts,” Heller told a group of franchisees, franchisors and other business leaders at a meeting in conjunction with the International Franchise Association’s annual convention in Las Vegas. “I’m sitting at a table with people who create jobs.”

Last year, Heller and several Senate colleagues wrote to National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Richard Griffin seeking a full explanation of the rationale for the abrupt shift in the definition of joint employer.

“We appreciate Sen. Heller’s availability to meet with us to discuss the challenges that local business owners across Nevada would face should the NLRB expand the well-established definition of joint employer,” said  John Noellert, owner of FASTSIGNS® locations in Reno and Carson City. “To me, at best it would mean less control over my business; at worst it could mean being forced to close my shop, layoff my employees, and less economic activity in my community.”

If the NLRB adopts Griffin’s recommendation in the Browning-Ferris case, as is widely anticipated, the new joint-employer standard would upend the relationship many businesses currently maintain with their employees and in contractual business relationships such as franchise agreements and with subcontractors.  Suddenly, it would become unclear who is actually responsible for day-to-day decisions in retail shops, restaurants, hotels and a wide range of service businesses. Hundreds of thousands of businesses and millions of employees would have to scramble to adjust to the new standard, creating vast uncertainty for the entire business community.

While court action is seen as inevitable in specific cases before the NLRB that gave rise to the new joint-employer standard, a comprehensive remedy will rest with Congress.

It’s important that Washington knows that we need to let franchisees run their own business,” said Katherine Jacobi of the Nevada Restaurant Association.