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By Abby Risner on April 12, 2018 at 2:35 PM

White plate with a fork and knife that has nutrition facts sitting on top of the plateAfter repeated delays, the compliance deadline for the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) new federal menu labeling rules — requiring disclosure of nutrition information for standard menu items — is set for May 7, 2018. After repeatedly being postponed, the FDA announced that the rules will not be postponed any longer and will be enforced as of that date.

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By Dawn Johnson, Dominique de Vastey on January 30, 2018 at 12:48 PM

Signature line on a piece of paperA Georgia federal court recently found that a person who did not sign a franchise agreement was nevertheless bound by it. That was good news for a franchisor caught between two parties who claimed no responsibility for violating the franchise agreement by opening a competing business in the same franchise location. 

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By Beata Krakus, Audrie Howard on December 15, 2017 at 10:30 AM

Sign showing reversal of directionMost franchisors will be happy to hear that the NLRB on Dec. 14 nixed the Browning-Ferris expansion of the joint employer doctrine, which has been of concern to the franchise industry for several years. The new case is Hy-Brand Industrial Contractors, Ltd. and Brandt Construction Co, 361 NLRB No. 156 (Dec. 14, 2017). Even though the board held that Hy-Brand and Brandt are collectively joint employers for purposes of the National Labor Relations Act, the joint employer standard applied is a significant departure from the Browning-Ferris standard.

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By Dawn Johnson, Leonard Vines on December 7, 2017 at 9:24 AM

White turnaround arrow on a brick wall, showing a reversal in a decision.Unlike some states’ franchise laws, the Missouri Franchise Act gives limited protection to franchisees. However, it does provide that if a franchisor fails to give 90 days’ notice of cancellation or termination, the franchisee may be awarded “damages sustained, to include loss of goodwill, costs of suit, and any equitable relief that the court deems proper.” A recent case provided much-needed clarification on how damages are measured if a franchisor fails to give a proper notice of termination.

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By Beata Krakus on November 2, 2017 at 9:48 AM

Small business loan application being filled out by a businesspersonSBA-backed loans have long been an important source of funding for many franchisees, but in the past several years, the system has been in flux. Changes will again be implemented on Jan. 1, 2018, and franchisors should ensure they are ready.

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By Abby Risner on October 27, 2017 at 10:52 AM

Image of the front of the United States CapitolThe enforceability of class action waivers in arbitration provisions has been debated for years in courts across the country, including in several cases before the United States Supreme Court. This week, Congress weighed in on the ongoing debate. 

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By Dawn Johnson on October 26, 2017 at 9:00 AM EDT

Man gets fingerprint scannedA nearly 10-year-old Illinois privacy law that has sparked class action lawsuits against familiar tech companies such as Google, Facebook and Shutterfly has moved into the franchise industry.

Following in the footsteps of claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, class action lawyers are now filing lawsuits under Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) alleging that companies are unlawfully collecting biometric information from customers and employees through devices such as fingerprint scanners. Plaintiffs are suing both franchisors and franchisees. Franchisors are being sued for collecting the information themselves for their own employees and also for the actions of their franchisees on theories of joint and several liability, vicarious liability, agency and alter ego. A recently filed case alleges that a franchisor mandates and controls virtually every aspect of its franchise locations, including the use of certain equipment that collects biometric information to track employees’ time and attendance and to monitor cash register systems for fraud. Other cases allege that franchisors and franchisees are using it to track health and fitness information and authenticate customers’ transactions.  

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By Dawn Johnson, Dominique de Vastey on October 17, 2017 at 4:00 PM

Hotel bed with pillowsWhile state and national efforts are underway to clarify the issue of joint employment, plaintiffs continue to allege the theory against franchisors in hopes of getting past a motion to dismiss. The lesson in one such recent case was that franchisors that give product discounts to their franchisees’ employees may find their generosity backfires if they are sued for being a joint employer in certain states. A federal district court in Michigan recently found that food service managers working at Marriott franchises had alleged enough facts to survive a motion to dismiss a lawsuit claiming that the franchisor, Marriott International, Inc., exercises control over them and is their joint employer. Among the allegations that the court cited in denying Marriott’s motion to dismiss was that Marriott treated plaintiffs like Marriott employees by giving them discount room rates at Marriott hotels worldwide, which the court said could be viewed as the ability to affect compensation and benefits similar to an employment relationship.

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By Dawn Johnson on September 11, 2017 at 11:12 AM

"Unfair" with the "un" crossed out and "fair" underlined showing unfair is now fairA recent federal appeals court decision overturning a $6.5 million jury verdict for a franchisee on a state franchise law discrimination claim demonstrates once again the difficulty that franchisees face in such challenges, even when the court finds that the franchisor treated some franchisees differently than others in some instances and could not explain why.

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By Dawn Johnson, Dominique de Vastey on September 8, 2017 at 9:40 AM

Magnifying glass showing the word "contract" on a piece of paperDespite arguably conflicting terms in a franchise agreement, a franchisor could enforce a non-compete provision whenever the agreement ended, whether by termination or expiration. An arbitrator reached that conclusion by harmonizing two provisions in the franchise agreement that referenced a non-compete obligation — one that referenced termination and one that referenced both termination and expiration. This was a reasonable interpretation of the contract, according to the Maryland federal district court that found no basis to upset the arbitration award.

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