29 CFR § 794.117 - Effect of franchises and other arrangements.

§ 794.117 Effect of franchises and other arrangements.

Whether a franchise or other contractual arrangement affects the status of the enterprise as “an independently owned and controlled * * * enterprise,” depends upon all the facts including the terms of the agreements and arrangements between the parties as well as the other relationships that have been established. The term “franchise” is not susceptible of precise definition. While it is clear that in every franchise a business surrenders some rights, it is equally clear that every franchise does not necessarily deprive an enterprise of its character as an independently owned and operated business. This matter was the subject of legislative consideration in connection with other provisions of the 1961 amendments to the Act. The Senate Report on the amendments, in discussing the effects of franchises and similar arrangements on the scope of the “enterprise” under section 3(r) of the Act, stated as follows:

There may be a number of different types of arrangements established in such cases. The key in each case may be found in the answer to the question, “Who receives the profits, suffers the losses, sets the wages and working conditions of employees, or otherwise manages the business in those respects which are the common attributes of an independent businessman operating a business for profit?”

In all of these cases if it is found on the basis of all the facts and circumstances that the arrangements are so restrictive as to products, prices, profits, or management as to deny the “franchised” establishment the essential prerogative of the ordinary independent businessman, the establishment, the dealer, or concessionaire will be considered an integral part of the related activities of the enterprise which grants the franchise, rights or concession. (S. Rep. 145, 87th Cong., first session, p. 42.)

Thus there may be a number of different types of arrangements established in such cases and the determination as to whether the arrangements have the effect of depriving the enterprise of its independent ownership or control will necessarily depend on all the facts. The fact that the distributor hires and controls the employees engaged in distribution of the product does not establish the requisite independence of the distributor; it is only one factor to be considered (Wirtz v. Lunsford, 404 F. 2d 693 (C.A. 6).) Ultimately the determination of the precise scope of such arrangements and their effect upon the independent ownership and control of the enterprise under section 7(b)(3), as well as on the question whether such arrangements result in creating a larger enterprise, rests with the courts.