With apologies to James Taylor, In my mind I’m gone to Carolina. That’s not because of Tarheels or Panthers or Hurricanes. It’s because North Carolina just enacted a law to make it easier for the state to identify instances of independent contractor misclassification.
Not only does the law help the state identify business that may be misclassifying workers, it also coordinates the state’s enforcement efforts. The law creates a process for state agencies to share suspected incidents of misclassification, so those businesses unlucky enough to take a hit on an unemployment claim can expect to hear from the Department of Labor and Department of Revenue as well. How sweet it is to be loved by you (and you, and you, and you).
The Employee Fair Classification Act creates an Employment Classification Section within the Department of Industrial Relations. Its role is to receive complaints from workers who suspect they have been misclassified, investigate them, and make it easier for the other state agencies to investigate them as well. Most of the law’s provisions go into effect December 31, 2017. Continue reading →
Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy is a low-quality youtube video that has somehow amassed more than a million hits. In the video, a lone (possibly intoxicated) festival goer starts dancing in a field. After a minute or so, momentum builds and others join him, showing off their terrible dance moves in a video you’ll wish you hadn’t wasted three minutes watching. (Just speaking from experience here.)
Several weeks ago, the House began considering a bill that would rewrite the definition of “joint employment” under federal wage and hour law (Fair Labor Standards Act) and federal labor law (National Labor Relations Act). The Save Local Business Act would require “direct” and “significant” control over “essential terms” of employment before a business could be considered a joint employer of a worker employed by another business (such as a staffing agency or a subcontractor). Read more here and here.
Originally sponsored by Rep. Bradley Byrne of Alabama (you might think of Rep. Byrne as the original dancer in the Leadership video, but dressed as a conservative Southern gentleman), the bill now has 112 co-sponsors, including a few Democrats. Dance party!
A recurring theme in this blog has been that when trying to determine Who Is My Employee?, there are different tests under different laws. Different tests can yield different results.
A recent court decision from Pennsylvania emphasizes this point. In the Keystone State (proud home of Dunder Mifflin and Hershey Park), contruction workers are considered employees for workers compensation purposes unless they (i) have a written contract, (ii) have a place of business separate from their general contractor’s site, and (iii) have liability insurance of at least $50,000. This strict test is courtesy of the Construction Workplace Misclassification Act (CWMA), an Act whose name shows a disappointing lack of creativity.
I might have gone with “Construction Occupation Workers’ Act Regarding Designations In Classifying Employees” (COWARDICE) or “Law About Misclassifying Employees” (LAME) or, if I was hungry for shellfish, then maybe “Construction Law About Misclassification for Builders And Keeping Employees Safe” (CLAMBAKES).
A legal battle in Seattle (“The Battle of Seattle!”) may soon determine whether independent contractor drivers can form unions. In 2015, the city passed a law allowing Uber and Lyft drivers to organize. The mayor allowed the law to go into effect but didn’t sign it because he was concerned it would spawn expensive litigation. He was right.
This month, a federal judge handed the City a victory, dismissing a lawsuit by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce which had argued that the ordinance was illegal. The decision is certainly not the last word on the subject, since the Chamber will appeal and there is a companion lawsuit still pending anyway.
The issues go beyond the basic question of whether independent contractors can form unions.
Generally, they cannot. Independent contractors are separate businesses. Antitrust law Continue reading →
On Monday, we wrote about the Save Local Business Act — proposed legislation that, if passed, would create a new definition for joint employment under the NLRA and FLSA. But would that law go far enough?
No. Not at all.
On the bright side for businesses, the law would provide some predictability in that staffing agency workers would most likely be excluded from bargaining units. It would also remedy the current unfairness that results when a staffing agency makes payroll and overtime miscalculations but the company using the workers is held responsible as a joint employer.
But much more needs to be done to provide real clarity and predictability for business owners.
First, the law fails to address who is a joint employer under other federal employment Continue reading →
Congress may finally provide some clarity in determining who is a joint employer. In legislation introduced last week, the House proposed a bill that would rewrite the definition of “joint employer” under federal labor law (National Labor Relations Act) and federal wage and hour law (Fair Labor Standards Act).
The Save Local Business Act — despite lacking a fun-to-say acronym — would create a new standard for determining who is a joint employer under these two laws. The proposed new standard would allow a finding of joint employment “only if such person [business] directly, actually, and immediately, and not in a routine and limited manner, exercises significant control over the essential terms and conditions of employment….”
The definition provides examples of what are “essential terms and conditions,” including: Continue reading →
If you retain freelancers in New York City, pay attention.
As we wrote here, NYC’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act requires a written agreement when retaining an individual independent contractor, if the value of services is $800 or more. The law covers any individual non-employee, including nannies and babysitters. (Loyal readers, please read this earlier post for details.)
The law took effect May 15, 2017, but new rules — effective July 24, 2017 — create additional burdens.
The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs has published final rules implementing the Act. While the purpose of the rules is (supposedly) to clarify the Act, the Rules go much further and create new requirements — some of which may be contrary to federal law.