STATEMENT
For Immediate Release: August 31, 2015
Contact: Maria Myotte, maria@rocunited.org, 720 352 6153

ROC Applauds NLRB’s Expanded Joint-Employer Definition

New Definition Could Help Mitigate Unfair Hiring and Promotion Policies Throughout Restaurant Industry

 The following statement should be attributed to Saru Jayaraman, co-founder/co-director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United), the largest restaurant workers’ advocacy organization in the country.

“The NLRB’s decision to adopt a more inclusive definition of a “joint employer” is a crucial acknowledgment of the reality of today’s workforce. Under the new standard that a company is a joint employer if it exercises indirect control over working conditions or if it reserves the authority to do so, massive restaurant corporations that typically hide behind the franchise model to avoid accountability would be wise to immediately institute better oversight and compliance with important labor laws to ensure all their employees — franchise or not — are being treated and paid fairly.

“Unfortunately, the restaurant industry is rife with wage and hour violations, sexual harassment, and unfair and discriminatory hiring and promotion policies. For example, although the restaurant industry is the largest employer of people of color, they are largely shut out of the industry’s limited living wage jobs despite being as equally qualified as their white counterparts– a widespread problem known as  ‘occupational segregation.’ Although the National Restaurant Association (NRA) paints the restaurant industry as a virtual elevator of upward mobility where anyone can just push a button to advance, ROC’s research shows that’s simply not the case. Due to informal and discriminatory hiring and promotion policies throughout the restaurant industry, workers of color in the United States pay a “race tax” in the form of 56% lower earnings than white workerswith the same qualifications. One employer that is exceptional in its focus to ensure the fair internal advancement of its employees is Chipotle. Restaurant corporations like McDonald’s and YUM Brands exercise considerable if not total control of wages and working conditions at their locations, especially considering that their anti-worker lobbying activities as major players of the NRA set standards for their companies and the entire industry. The much-needed expansion of the joint-employer definition could help bring about many improvements to wages and working conditions, including paving the way for more robust and formal promotion ladders like Chipotle’s to become the new standard instead of the exception.”

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Co-founded by leading workers’ rights advocate Saru Jayaraman (“One of the top 50 most influential people in the restaurant industry” – Nation’s Restaurant News) ROC United has grown close to 14,000 worker-members across over 30 cities in the US, winning 15 worker-led campaigns, totaling $8 million in stolen tips and wages.