DOL Withdraws Obama-era Administrative Interpretation on Independent Contractors

Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta today announced the withdrawal of the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) 2015 and 2016 informal guidance on joint employment and independent contractors.

Removal of the administrator interpretations does not change the legal responsibilities of employers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, as reflected in the department’s long-standing regulations and case law, according to the secretary’s announcement. The department will continue to fully and fairly enforce all laws within its jurisdiction, including the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act.

The 2015 interpretation on independent contractors made it more difficult to so classify one’s workers, and the 2016 interpretation on joint employment sought to make franchisers responsible for franchisees’ employment practices (i.e., legal liability), likewise for subsidiaries and sub-contractors, potentially.

Notably, the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB’s) stance on joint employment remains unchanged, meaning employers still aren’t entirely off the hook. The NLRB established the original changes to joint employer rules through its decision in the Browning-Ferris case, which is still moving through the courts.

NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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