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Joint-Employer Status Under the NLRA after Browning-Ferris and Miller & Anderson

Structuring Agreements With Subcontractors, Independent Contractors and Contingent Workers to Minimize Joint Employment Risks

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

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Conducted on Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Recorded event now available

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This CLE course will review the latest developments under the NLRA on determining joint-employer status since the NLRB's seminal Browning-Ferris ruling and its recent Miller & Anderson decision. Our panel will discuss the implications of these decisions on the manner in which businesses use contingent workers, and will offer practical and strategic approaches for structuring agreements with subcontractors, independent contractors and contingent workers to minimize joint employment risks.


In August 2015, the NLRB issued the highly-anticipated Browning-Ferris Industries of California Inc. case, greatly expanding the definition of joint-employer and upending its 30-year-old “joint-employer test.” The Browning-Ferris standard considers as potentially definitive the mere right the putative joint-employer has to control terms and conditions of employment, even if that right is never exercised. The new standard also changes the requirement that the putative joint-employer exercise “immediate and direct” control. Now, indirect control—such as that often exercised by one company over employment conditions of another’s workers—may, in itself, be sufficient to establish joint-employer status.

On July 11, 2016, the NLRB dramatically extended the potential impact of that new standard in deciding Miller & Anderson. In Miller & Anderson, the NLRB overturned another established precedent and resurrected a short-lived standard it adopted in 2000. Under Miller & Anderson, unions can organize in one bargaining unit the employees of two separate companies - a single employer and those it jointly employs with another – regardless of whether the two companies consent. Such “mixed units” are pervasive in today’s workplace, where employers routinely utilize temporary workers to supplement their regular workforces.

Across the spectrum of business relationships, counsel must be able to explain these new and evolving standards and help clients assess their risks of being deemed a joint-employer under the NLRA and other labor and employment laws. Employment counsel should encourage clients to revisit their existing practices and contracts, and assist them in developing options to best minimize the risks these two decisions create.

Listen as our experienced panel explains how counsel can structure and guide the implementation of agreements with subcontractors, staffing agencies and independent contractors to minimize the risks of joint-employer liability.



  1. Legal framework for joint-employer liability
    1. Impact of Browning-Ferris
    2. Impact of Miller & Anderson
  2. Evaluating existing structure, operations, agreements and practices
  3. Best practices for minimizing risk of being deemed a joint-employer


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • How have the NLRB’s rulings in Browning-Ferris and its progeny changed the legal standard governing joint-employer status?

  • What agreement provisions and business practices create the most risk of being found to be a joint-employer?

  • How should companies consider structuring operations and revising their practices and agreements to avoid joint-employer liability under both Browning-Ferris and Miller & Anderson?

  • How has the NLRB’s expanded definition of joint-employer liability impacted the employer-employee relationship beyond the reach of the NLRA—such as equal employment opportunity and wage and hour laws?


Bucking, James
James W. Bucking

Foley Hoag

Mr. Bucking represents corporations and other employers in union disputes, complex employment litigation and other...  |  Read More

Mark G. Kisicki
Mark G. Kisicki

Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart

For 25 years, Mr. Kisicki has helped companies deal with a broad range of issues that affect them as employers,...  |  Read More

Jennifer Platzkere Snyder
Jennifer Platzkere Snyder

Dilworth Paxson

Ms. Snyder represents public and private sector employers in addressing all aspects of labor and employment law,...  |  Read More

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