The International Franchise Association is forming a law center to defend the political interests of franchised businesses in the courts, the association announced Wednesday.
The IFA Law Center will add litigation to the association’s ongoing lobbying, policy and media influence efforts. The creation of the law center was framed as a response to the National Labor Relations Board’s changes to joint employer rules earlier this month, and to regulatory changes under consideration by the Federal Trade Commission.
The IFA and the National Restaurant Association killed the joint employer provision in AB 1228 – through a deal which will establish a largely advisory fast food standards council — in California through political compromise. Now, a strong litigation arm gives the association another tool in its efforts to stymie labor reform.
Several leaders from the IFA — Matthew Haller, president and CEO of IFA; Mike Williams, CFO of IFA; Michael Layman, senior vice president, government relations & public affairs of IFA; and Sarah Bush, general counsel of IFA — comprise the leadership of the law center. These individuals are supported by a 15-member advisory board, including representatives of “quick service restaurants, hotels, retail, health and wellness services, residential services and other key stakeholders.”
“The IFA Law Center will serve as a valuable tool defending the interests of franchisors and franchisees alike,” said IFA Chair David Humphrey.
In an interview with Restaurant Dive earlier this year, Haller said changes to joint employer rules “creates an immense amount of legal risk, if you’re a franchisor. That causes franchisors to back off providing that kind of indirect support to their franchisees to make a business successful.”
Two U.S. Senators, Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) have said they will try to use the Congressional Review Act — a law that gives the legislative branch the ability to overturn specific executive branch rules — to reverse the NLRB’s new rules on joint employment. The IFA hosted a press conference with the senators about that effort on Monday, after calling on Congress to act to stop the NLRB rule last week.
The IFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how the law center would operate, what its budget would look like or what its immediate litigation priorities are.