August 11, 2020

Volume X, Number 224

August 10, 2020

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DOL Withdraws Administrator’s Interpretations on Joint Employment and Independent Contractors

Today, the U.S. Department of Labor withdrew its controversial written interpretations addressing joint employment and the misclassification of employees as independent contractors.  These informal guidance documents, which were issued by the Wage and Hour Division Administrator during the Obama Administration, were criticized by some for taking an unduly broad view of the employment relationship under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).[1]  In today’s announcement withdrawing the guidance documents, the Department of Labor made a point of stating that the withdrawal of these documents does not change the legal responsibilities of employers, as reflected in longstanding regulations and case law.  This is an important point because, while today’s announcement is welcome news for employers and may signal less extreme positions by the Department of Labor, employers should still be mindful of potential liability associated with joint employment and independent-contractor classifications.  In addition to DOL enforcement (which the agency made clear will continue), a number of states have been active in their efforts to curb employee misclassification, and employees also have a private right of action under the FLSA and various state laws.

[1] In addition, a recorded webinar addressing the classification of independent contractors is available on the K&L Gates HUB here, and an article addressing independent contractors in the gig economy, published in Computer Law Review International, is available here

Copyright 2020 K & L GatesNational Law Review, Volume VII, Number 158


About this Author

Amy Groff, KL Gates Law Firm, Labor and Employment Attorney

Ms. Groff’s practice involves employment law, general civil and commercial litigation, and appellate work.

Her employment law practice involves representing employers before administrative agencies, in state and federal trial courts, and on appeal. She also provides advice on employment-related issues and drafts policies, procedures, and agreements.

She has worked on appeals pending in courts around the country involving a variety of substantive areas of the law. Ms. Groff has appeared a number of times in the...