National Maintenance Contractors, a janitorial firm with a long history with legal challenges, faces scrutiny this week after new claims are made. The NMC business model has come under fire in Oregon and Washington, especially after after a 2013 ruling by an administrative law judge—upheld in 2015 and 2017—found that NMC misclassified employees as franchisees.
The attorneys at Northwest Workers’ Justice Project (NWJP), representing 31 former and current janitorial workers, sent National Maintenance Contractors, LLC, (NMC) letters this week demanding payment for violations of state and federal wage and hour laws. The letters, addressed to both NMC and its parent company Marsden Holding, LLC, allege that NMC and Marsden illegally treated their janitorial employees in Oregon and Washington as franchisees, charging thousands of dollars in fees and paying less than the state and federal minimum wages.
NWJP states that it believes that NMC/Marsden used the franchise business model to circumvent employer responsibilities and that the so-called business expenses of the employees are recoverable as damages in the illegal scheme.
In 1984, NMC was barred from receiving federal contracts after violating wage standards under the Service Contract Act. In 2004, Willamette Week reported that “NMC lures franchisees, usually non-English speakers with no business experience, with the promise of owning their own janitorial company. NMC provides the work and training, negotiates the contracts with clients, and sells the supplies, all for a set fee.”
NWJP is a nonprofit legal organization representing low-wage, immigrant and contingent workers in the Pacific Northwest.