With the recent reversal on its 2015 ruling in the Browning-Ferris Industries case, the National Relations Board has given welcome news to hotel owners and executive team: companies are no longer responsible for associates they do not have direct control over. While the ruling provides a clearer guide for what hoteliers are liable for, the hotel industry, which is heavily reliant on staffing vendors and subcontractors in many circumstances, is not in the clear from joint-employment liability.
The Political Environment
This reversal has shown how quickly policy can change; and with the ever-changing state of the political environment, it is not out of the question that the Browning-Ferris Industries may be reversed to its 2015 ruling. In fact, Republican Chairman Philip Miscimarra, member of the NLRB, left the board on December 16, and the opening of his seat has the potential to shift the makeup of the board. This potential is slim as the board seat will be confirmed by the Senate, of which the Republican party holds a majority. However, this plus the two additional board seats that will be opening within the next two years should be a cause for concern for the hospitality industry. With such a quickly changing political environment, hoteliers should approach joint employment as if the 2015 ruling of Browning-Ferris Industries was still in place. Not only is it the only way to fully prevent hoteliers and their ownership groups from being held liable for joint employment violations, but creates peace of mind and less work should the NLRB reinstate the Browning-Ferris Industries ruling again.
Bryan Wroten, in his article titled “Joint-employer reversal: What hoteliers should know,” addressed legal concerns following the reversal and the importance that hoteliers review the contracts with their subcontractors or staffing providers. Referencing and quoting Dana Kravetz, managing partner at Michelman & Robinson, Wroten writes “It’s likely many hoteliers didn’t take a strong look at their contracts to make sure they only included components to protect them from joint-employer status, such as checking that the contract only maintains franchise standards rather than exerting control.”
While this reversal benefits hoteliers, it is important to remain vigilant on potential joint employment issues within a property. Continue to ask your vendors these important questions to fully protect yourself, your management company and ownership group, and review your vendor contracts with your legal team. For guaranteed protection, consider The Service Companies, the only provider of staffing, cleaning and managed services to the hospitality industry that protects a property and ownership from any potential joint employment challenges. We provide a full benefits package and training to our associates, document ID and social security numbers and require all associates to have I-9, W-4, criminal background checks, drug screens and E-Verification validations.