29 CFR § 779.220 - Unified operation may exist as to separately owned or controlled activities which are related.
Whether there is unified operation of related activities will thus be of concern primarily in those cases where the related activities are separately owned or controlled but where, through arrangement, agreement or otherwise, they are so performed as to constitute a unified business system organized for a common business purpose. For example, a group of separately incorporated, separately owned companies, may agree to conduct their activities in such manner as to be for all intents and purposes a single business system except for the fact that the ownership and control of the individual segments of the business are retained, in part or in whole, by the individual companies comprising the unified business system. The various units may operate under a single trade name; construct their establishment to appear identical; use identical equipment; sell generally the same goods or provide the same type of services, and, in some cases, at uniform standardized prices; and in other respects appear to the persons utilizing their services or purchasing their goods as being the same business. They also may arrange for group purchasing and warehousing; for advertising as a single business; and for standardization of their records, as well as their credit, employment, and other business policies and practices. In such circumstances the activities may well be performed through “unified operation” sufficient to consider all of the related activities performed by the group of units as constituting one enterprise, despite the separate ownership of the various segments and despite the fact that the individual units or segments may retain control as to some or all of their own activities. That this is in accord with the congressional intent is plain, since where the Congress intended that such arrangements shall not bring a group of certain individual retail or service establishments into a single enterprise, provision to accomplish such exception was specifically included. (See § 779.226, discussing the proviso in section 3(r) with respect to certain franchise and other specified arrangements entered into between independently owned retail or service establishments and other businesses.)