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The New Secretary of Labor Puts the Brakes on Killing Independent Contractors

On June 7, Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta announced the withdrawal of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) 2015 and 2016 joint employment and independent contractor informal guidance. According to a DOL press release, “removal of the administrator interpretations does not change the legal responsibilities of employers under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, as reflected in the department’s long-standing regulations and case law.”

The announcement shortly preceded Secretary Acosta’s appearance before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies for a hearing on the White House budget proposal.

For more information about DOL’s June 7 action, please read ABC general counsel’s, Littler Mendelson P.C. analysis titled, “DOL Withdraws Joint Employer and Independent Contractor Guidance” which provides additional important context to this action:

“The removal of the Wage and Hour Administrator’s Interpretations (AIs) does nothing to resolve the confusion surrounding joint employment in the labor law context. The National Labor Relations Board’s pivotal decision in Browning-Ferris Industries fundamentally changed the joint-employer standard under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Although that decision has been appealed to the D.C. Circuit, its resolution is far from certain. During the last congressional session, lawmakers proposed legislation to clarify the joint-employer definition, but it did not advance.

“Moreover, the AIs’ rescission does not resolve the conflicting interpretations of joint employment and independent contractor status under various state laws, so employers are no closer to a bright-line standard on either issue. What the DOL’s move shows, however, is that the current administration is taking steps to rein in the expansive interpretation of ‘employment’ that had evolved in recent years.”

Source: http://www.abc.org/NewsMedia/Newsline/tabid/143/entryid/8699/dol-withdraws-informal-guidance-on-key-issues.aspx

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