GOP demands documents on OSHA rule targeting franchisers

Republican lawmakers are demanding that the Department of Labor turn over all documents relating to a proposed Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule that would make franchisers legally liable for violations at their franchisees.

The lawmakers accuse the department of planning to use OSHA to punish businesses for issues unrelated to workplace safety and hiding those efforts from Congress.

Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., reminded Labor Secretary Tom Perez in a letter sent Tuesday that he asked the secretary directly at a March hearing whether OSHA was planning to adopt the same franchiser liability policy that the National Labor Relations Board, an independent federal agency that enforces labor laws, had advocated in a case against McDonald's Corp. last year.

"You were asked if OSHA was 'planning to follow the NLRB and hold franchisers jointly liable for labor law violations committed by franchises.' You responded, 'I am unaware of any OSHA action.' Yet, just five months later (a) leaked draft guidance shows OSHA has been working on a such a policy," Alexander said in a letter co-signed by Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla.