In what can be considered a blow to employee rights but a win for parent companies such as McDonald’s, a recent National Relations Labor Board (NLRB) ruling has significantly narrowed the right of franchise workers to force big companies to take responsibility for their working conditions while effectively blocking the employee’s path to unionization.

In essence, the ruling makes it harder to classify corporations as “joint employers” with other companies they have relationships with; this definition can be extended to a fast food parent company and its franchisees, or even between franchise locations.

In this Business Casual segment, Daniel Litwin and Taylor Bagley discuss the ramifications to fast food employees, franchisees, and their parent companies alike, and how the new NLRB ruling is in direct opposition of the Labor Board’s Obama-era goals which placed the onus of responsibility for an individual franchise’s violations, legal issues, lawsuits, wage disputes, etc. on to the umbrella corporation.

“Labor groups are likely going to be upset with this change—it makes it harder for fast food workers to push for $15 minimum wage, things like that,” Litwin said.

A ruling that is emblematic of a broader fissured workplace, the ruling blurs the lines for employees, making it unclear who their boss truly is, who they should organize with or against and/or collectively bargain with to improve working conditions or increase their pay.

“I do think that, obviously, anything that kind of takes away from your customer—what builds the company—is probably, you know, not the best move, but it kind of remains to be seen here,” Bagley replied.

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