The National Labor Relations Board, in its ruling on a major employment case Thursday, said a business can be found liable for the labor violations of another employer even if it had only "potential" control over the second employer's workers.

Critics, including the board's dissenting members, said the new standard set by the main federal labor law enforcement agency in the Browning-Ferris decision would create major confusion in resolving labor disputes.

"No bargaining table is big enough to seat all of the entities that will be potential joint employers under the majority's new standards. In this regard, we believe the majority's new test impermissibly exceeds our statutory authority," said dissenting board members Harry Johnson and Philip Miscimarra.

Previously, the board had said that for a company to be a joint employer — that is, when workers must answer to two separate bosses — it had to have some form of involvement in the management of them. But in its ruling Thursday, a three-member majority said that standard was outdated due to the proliferation of temporary staffing agencies and the expanding use of temporary contracting.

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