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Labour Law

What is Alter Ego in Labour law?

Alter ego is a Latin term for ‘another you'. An alter ego firm crops up when the same director or group of managers reopens a similar venture introducing a new trade name. This article let us obtain in-depth knowledge about alter ego companies.

Alter Ego in Labour law is originally a Latin phrase that translates as “Other I”. Colloquially, we can understand this term as a second self or clone. We all know that a private or public limited enterprise happens to be a different legal entity that is legally set apart from its directors and shareholders. This widespread legal principle protects the shareholders and Board members from being considered liable for all company’s illegal trade activities and commercial debts. On the other hand, the doctrine concerning an alter ego speaks for an alternative to this established rule

Therefore this doctrine reveals the corporate ambiguity between the shareholders/directors and the company. Both are treated as a single entity in this case. The principle of alter ego has been structured on the consideration that the enterprise and the share owners and the Board representatives are all alter egos of one another. They all represent alternative sides of a coin. The courts, therefore, approve the principles of the alter ego doctrine whenever the jurisdiction discovers that there remains a thin opportunity of variability among the directors/shareholders and their collaborative enterprise; this condition even holds for an LLC or limited liability corporation in the U.S.

Factors Considered in Establishing Alter Ego

Establishing alter ego status involves demonstrating that two entities, such as parent and subsidiary companies or affiliated businesses, are essentially one and the same, operating as a single enterprise. Courts typically consider several factors when determining alter ego status:

  1. Unity of Ownership and Control: Courts analyze whether there is substantial common ownership and control between the entities, indicating a potential unity of interest.
  2. Intermingling of Operations: If the operations, assets, or finances of the entities are significantly intertwined, it suggests that they function as a single economic entity.
  3. Common Officers and Directors: The sharing of officers and directors between the entities may indicate an alter ego relationship.
  4. Common Business Purpose: A shared business purpose or objective between the entities could support the alter ego argument.
  5. Commingle of Funds: If the entities commingle funds or assets, it may suggest a lack of separation between them.
  6. Identity of Interests: Evidence of the entities pursuing similar or identical interests further strengthens the alter ego claim.
  7. Undercapitalization: If one entity is undercapitalized, relying on the resources of another, it may point to an alter ego relationship.

Liability of Alter Ego Entities

When a court establishes alter ego status, it can lead to significant legal consequences, including:

  1. Joint Liability: Both the parent and subsidiary entities may be held jointly liable for labor law violations, wage disputes, and employment-related claims
  2. Piercing the Corporate Veil: In some cases, the corporate veil between the entities may be pierced, exposing the parent company’s assets to satisfy the liabilities of the subsidiary
  3. Successor Liability: In scenarios involving mergers or acquisitions, the acquiring entity may inherit the labor law obligations of the acquired entity if alter ego status is established.

Implications for Employment-related Obligations

Alter ego status can have far-reaching implications for employment-related obligations, including

  1. Wage and Hour Compliance: Both alter ego entities may be responsible for ensuring compliance with wage and hour laws, including minimum wage, overtime, and recordkeeping requirements.
  2. Employee Benefits: The determination of alter ego status may impact employee benefits and eligibility for benefits programs offered by the parent or subsidiary company.
  3. Collective Bargaining: In unionized settings, the establishment of alter ego status could lead to collective bargaining obligations that extend to both entities
  4. Employment Discrimination: Both entities may be jointly liable for employment discrimination claims based on alter ego status.
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Common Phrases or Words Used in Labour Relations

  • Arbitration: This term refers to a dispute settlement process involving an impartial party (not a part of the corporation entirely) who renders a statement on a problem put forward by the members. This can further be discussed in several classes. Grievance arbitration is a pre-agreed contractual process implemented to address grievances. This method includes applying past practices or terms defined in the collective bargaining declaration. A neutral entity supervises the procedure.
  • Advisory arbitration: is proposed by an arbitrator and is in the range of recommendations that either party is not forced to accept. The next one is binding arbitration, where the members have no choice but to follow the regulations designed by the arbitrator, as the court plays a vital role in this activity.
  • Interest arbitration: It is closely related to grievance arbitration, but both of them are different based on some grounds. The former principle is designed to resolve bargaining deadlocks that comprise firefighters and police personnel. A neutral entity is preferred by the Board members or designated by the administrative body, very much similar to other classes of arbitration.
  • Bergenfield Letter: This is a statement dispensed before or at the time of negotiations which infers that a council of education’s bargaining unit is specifically cloaked with the administration to secure a tentative deal. Also, the administration is ready to reject or promote the agreement after setting up an advisory session with the full corporate board.
  • Collective Bargaining Agreement: An agreement that includes the takeaways of a negotiation between two or more parties. This textual instrument establishes the regulations and clauses of employment, procedures of grievance settlement and other related accords that are likely to crop up from collective bargaining. This document is also referred to as the ‘agreement of contract’. Both ways, approval is mandatory from the sides of the employer and the employees; without this thing affirmed, there is no chance to amend the policies stated in the collective bargaining agreement.
  • Confidential employee: This term stands for all the workers whose operational knowledge or duties at the job are directly involved in the associated negotiations. Thus their membership, if approved in the union, will convert the unit’s notion incompatible if compared with their laid-out responsibilities. Confidential employees have separate job functions, which are clarified in the exclusive job description handed over to them in person. To be entitled as a “confidential employee”, a particular company’s ongoing disputes should dictate the employer’s advanced awareness of the negotiations terms and bargaining strategies.
  • Major Representative: This term recognises an employee unit that has been certified or approved to speak for most of the working professionals enrolled in a formal bargaining unit. An agent is entrusted with the duties of a major representative to process grievance cases and manage collective bargaining for all workers in the unit. At times an exclusive representative also represents the non-member workers and puts forward their demands with equal priority. An individual worker gets a chance to present his grievance.
  • Merit Pay: Employees are motivated to work more productively when the provisions of extra payouts are linked based on their performance over a set period. Outstanding workers who are assets to an organisation are appreciated for their consistent hard work through merit pay. Merit pay is negotiable as a nature of compensation.
  • Recognition: The textual acceptance from the end of a public employer addressing an organisation employee who belongs to a core unit is termed recognition. It is a crucial strategy leading to the foundation of a mutual collective bargaining relationship. Under certain situations, employers are also eligible to voluntarily recognise a firm without issuing certification or any form of election.

Alter Ego in Labor Relations

In India, the Supreme Court cleared the principles of the doctrine involving “alter ego” in the popular judgement of the CBI v Sunil Mittal case. The court took action against the company directors. The court overruled the verdict of the judge, noticing that the Justice had applied the notion of alter ego, then the reverse judgement would have been declared. The Special judge disapproved of the factual information that interpretation of the enterprise’s alter ego would positively resist the principles of Indian labour law and come under criminal charges.

The persons found as law breakers were entrusted with the firms’ business operations. They had controlling powers, and thus the company’s course of action was well under their supervision round the clock. Considering all these aspects, the court announced that the organisation’s execution was completely based on the guilty party’s state of mind. As a consequence, the concerned individuals went to set up their own alter egos.


What is an example of an alter ego?

An example of an alter ego could be a situation where a parent company wholly owns and controls a subsidiary, and they share the same officers, directors, and business purpose, operating as if they are one entity.

What is the difference between alter ego and piercing the corporate veil?

Alter ego refers to the legal doctrine where two entities are treated as one due to their close association and unity of interest. Piercing the corporate veil, on the other hand, is a legal remedy where the court disregards the separate legal identity of a company and holds its owners personally liable for the company's debts or obligations.

What is the principle of alter ego and corporate criminal liability?

The principle of alter ego can extend to corporate criminal liability, wherein a parent company may be held criminally responsible for the actions of its subsidiary if alter ego status is established, and the subsidiary commits criminal acts.


The concept of alter ego in labor law carries significant implications for the legal relationships between related entities, impacting joint liability, corporate governance, and employment-related obligations. Understanding the factors considered in establishing alter ego status and the potential liabilities associated with it is essential for employers, employees, and legal practitioners alike. The recognition of alter ego status can lead to joint liability and piercing the corporate veil, exposing parent and subsidiary companies to shared responsibilities and potential legal consequences. Employers should be vigilant in ensuring compliance with labor laws to avoid alter ego claims and potential disruptions in their business operations. Employees, in turn, can use the concept of alter ego to protect their rights and seek remedies for labor law violations. By comprehending the intricacies of alter ego in labor law, stakeholders can navigate complex employment arrangements and maintain a fair and equitable work environment.

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