McDonald's Corp. says it has been notified by a labor regulator that it can be named as a "joint employer" for workers in its franchise-owned restaurants.
The decision by the National Labor Relations Board was being closely watched because it could potentially expose McDonald's to liability for the working conditions in its franchisees' stores.
Labor organizers have said McDonald's should be held accountable because the company has so much control in setting operational terms for franchisees.
Heather Smedstad, senior vice president of human resources for McDonald's USA, says the company was notified by the board Tuesday.
Representatives for the National Labor Relations Board and the fast-food workers weren't immediately available for comment.