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Clarion Group, Food Service Consultants, Announce Growing Trend in Government Partnerships for On-Site Food Services

More government agencies are adopting the position that organizations are responsible for their food service or other on-site service contractor’s labor-related legal problems, Tom Mac Dermott, president of Clarion Group, dining and hospitality consultants, reports.

Kingston, NH, April 21, 2016 --( Both the U.S. Department of Labor and Occupational Safety and Health Administration have adopted the National Labor Relations Board’s decision in a union recognition case that a company, college or other organization can be a “joint employer” with its on-site contractors, such as food service or housekeeping contractors.

“Both agencies as well as the NLRB take the position that the host company is liable for the illegal actions of its contractors, even in situations where the host had no knowledge of, gave no approval for, or did not participated in, the illegal act,” Mac Dermott said.

“The spread of the joint employer doctrine from the NLRB to other agencies was forecast in our newsletter, Dining Insights, when the NLRB ruling was published last August,” he added, “and sure enough, the agencies have followed the NLRB’s lead.”

The new government actions were reported in the most recent issue of Dining Insights.

The Department of Labor’s new policy says, “joint employment exists where the employee has an employment relationship with a subcontractor or other intermediary employer and the economic realities show that he or she is economically dependent on, and thus employed by, another entity [the contracting organization that receive the benefit of the employee’s labor.”

“Since the company, college or institution undeniably receives the benefit of its food service or other contractor’s employees’ work,” Mac Dermott says, “it seems to be nearly impossible to not be held liable for the contractor’s labor law violations.”

“The same situation applies with OSHA,” Mac Dermott added.

“Staffing agencies and the host employers are joint employers of temporary workers and both are responsible for providing and maintaining safe working conditions,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels in announcing the policy. Previously, the host was responsible for the safety of the facilities and equipment it provided and working condition under its direct control. The staffing agency (or on-site food service contractor) was responsible for safe work performance by its employees.

“Action by Congress or court decisions in probable legal challenges may modify or reverse these rulings,” Mac Dermott said. “But until then, probably a year or more from now, these are the laws of the land.”

“Your best immediate option,” he added, “is to closely monitor your food service contractor’s employment actions and interfere when necessary to protect your own interests. Whether you get involved or not, the NLRB, DOL or OSHA is likely to cite your organization as jointly liable anyway."

The managers and administrators of their organizations’ food service and hospitality services may receive Clarion Group’s quarterly Dining Insights newsletter upon request in either paper or electronic format. Requests may be sent to indicating the requestor’s name, position and the postal or e-mail address to which Dining Insights should be sent. The newsletter is complimentary, a Clarion Group service for the on-site food service and hospitality industry.

About Clarion Group

Clarion Group is an consulting firm that advises companies, professional firms, colleges and universities, independent schools and institutions in the management, operation and improvement of their in-house employee/student food services, catering, conference, lodging and related hospitality services throughout the U.S. and Canada.

For information, contact:
Tom Mac Dermott, FCSI, President
Clarion Group
PO Box 158, Kingston, NH 03848-0158
603/642-8011 or
Contact Information
Clarion Group
Tom Mac Dermott

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