What Happens to Joint Employer and IC Tests if Labor Sec. Nominee Julie Su is Confirmed?

There are quite a few songs about gals named Sue. There’s “Peggy Sue,” “Wake Up Little Susie,” “Susie Q,” and “Runaround Sue.” There’s a even a song about a “Boy Named Sue.” (The results of a recent survey consisting of me revealed that “Boy Named Sue” is by far the best of the Sue-themed songs.)

As far as I know, no one has yet written a song about Labor Secretary nominee Julie Su, but I would not be surprised if one of the unions in California wrote a ballad to applaud her work heading the state’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) and Labor and Workforce Development Agency. Maybe something like Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You.

Su is Biden’s pick for Secretary of Labor, following the resignation of Marty Walsh, who left to lead the NHL player’s union. Her nomination is controversial, and businesses fear they’ll be singing the blues if she’s confirmed.

But in a recent Senate committee hearing, she provided at least two answers that businesses will like.

First, she said she would not advocate for an independent contractor test modeled after California’s AB 5. She testified that it’s her view (mine too, probably the courts’ too) that only Congress could adopt an ABC Test to determine worker classification under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). That’s reassuring.

Second, she said that the DOL’s next regulatory agenda would not include a new joint employer test. The 2020 joint employer regulation adopted by the Trump DOL has been rescinded, and there has been no replacement regulation, which leaves a regulatory crater in the Code of Federal Regulations, where the joint employer rule used to be. Read more here.

On April 26, a Senate committee voted to advance Su’s nomination to the full Senate. All Democrats on the committee voted yes, and she received no Republican support. In a 51-49 Senate, the success of her nomination will likely depend on whether she can secure the support of Senators Manchin, Sinema, and Tester and whether Sen. Feinstein is healthy enough to vote.

And on that note, we turn back to Johnny Cash:

He said, “Now you just fought one heck of a fight
And I know you hate me, and you got the right to kill me now
And I wouldn’t blame you if you do
But you ought to thank me, before I die
For the gravel in ya gut and the spit in ya eye
‘Cause I’m the son of a bitch that named you Sue”

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© 2023 Todd Lebowitz, posted on WhoIsMyEmployee.com, Exploring Issues of Independent Contractor Misclassification and Joint Employment. All rights reserved.