Department Of Labor Withdraws Administrator’s Interpretations for Joint Employer and Independent Contractors

June 15, 2017

On June 7, 2017, Alexander Acosta, U.S. Secretary of Labor, announced an immediate withdrawal of two Wage and Hour Division Administrator’s Interpretations (“AIs”) on join employment and independent contractor status issued by the Obama Administration. In January 2016, AI No. 2016-01 addressed joint employment under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (“MSPA”), and viewed as an attempt to expand the definition of joint employment. In July 2016, AI No. 2015-1 was issued to address the definition of independent contractors under the FLSA which many opponents viewed as an attempt to narrow those classifications.

The DOL made clear that removing these AIs does not change an employer’s legal responsibility under the FLSA or MSPA, as reflected in the long-standing DOL regulations and case law. However, withdrawing these AIs is likely to signal a policy shift in how the DOL interprets and enforces matters relating to joint employment and independent contractors.