NCLEJ Submits Comment Opposing U.S. DOL’s Proposed “Independent Contractor Status” Rule
On September 25, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL” or “Department”) announced a proposed rule that would change the way the Department defines “employee” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). This new interpretation would restrict the number of workers who will classify as an employee, leading to more independent contractor designations and more employee misclassification.
Employers often classify their workers as independent contractors in an attempt to circumvent the FLSA. With a workforce of independent contractors, companies do need not provide workers with health benefits, overtime pay, and other rights under the FLSA. Many of the misclassified are low-income, low-wage workers of color for whom the FLSA aims to protect. States and the federal government have created task forces and signed memoranda of understanding in an effort to bring delinquent employers in compliance with the FLSA. Misclassified workers—often delivery drivers, janitorial workers, and construction workers—have sued in order to be deemed employees, but not every worker has the resources to go to court to obtain relief.
NCLEJ strongly opposes the DOL’s attempt to circumscribe the expansive definition of employee under the FLSA. Such an action would leave numerous low-wage workers vulnerable to unfair and exploitative workplace conditions.