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(Reuters) - The Trump administration has made it harder for employees of fast-food restaurants or other big franchises to sue corporations when individual franchise owners violate wage laws, a step that was a top priority for business groups.

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of a McDonald's restaurant is seen in Bordeaux, France, June 18, 2018. Picture taken June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

The U.S. Department of Labor on Sunday issued a rule that will make it more difficult to prove companies are liable for wage law violations of their contractors or franchisees. The rule takes effect in March, and should help franchisors who have been sued by workers in recent years for wage-law violations by franchisees.

McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N) has faced a series of high-profile lawsuits claiming it is a so-called “joint employer” of franchise workers. The company won a major victory in October when a federal appeals court in San Francisco said McDonald’s was not liable for alleged wage-law violations by a franchise owner.

In 2017, the department repudiated legal guidance from the Obama administration that had expanded circumstances in which a company could be considered a so-called joint employer under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia in a statement said the rule furthers President Donald Trump’s effort to address regulations that hinder economic growth.

“By giving greater clarity to businesses who want to work together, we promote an entrepreneurial culture that has driven American prosperity for decades,” Scalia said.

Unions and worker advocacy groups had opposed the rule after the Labor Department proposed it last April. The union-backed National Employment Law Project said on Monday that the rule would allow companies to avoid liability even when they have some control over working conditions, and would prevent

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