Ministry of Labor to host public forums on worker classification

The US Department of Labor plans to establish definitions of “employee” and “independent contractor” under the Fair Labor Standards Act. To do this, the DOL is seeking input on this contentious issue from employers and workers.

Two public forums are scheduled for this month. The first is aimed at employers and the second seeks input from workers.

Both virtual forums are open to the public and free of charge.

  • Employer Forum: 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST, Friday, June 24. Register here.
  • Workers’ Forum: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. (Eastern Time) on Wednesday, June 29. Register here.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association encourages its more than 150,000 members to participate in forums and provide feedback on how potential definitions might affect the trucking industry.

“OOIDA recognizes that worker classification is a critical issue for our members,” the Association wrote in a call-to-action email Monday, June 20. “We hope the Department of Labor will pay attention to the specific factors affecting classification in trucking, and these forums will provide a valuable opportunity for truckers to share their expertise.

The Department of Labor announced earlier this month that it plans to introduce regulations regarding the classification of workers.

“The misclassification of employees as independent contractors is one of the most serious issues facing affected employees, employers, and the American economy,” the Department of Labor wrote in a recent blog post. “Undergraded workers are denied basic workplace protections, including rights to minimum wage and overtime pay, making it harder for them to support themselves and their families. family. Falling wages due to misclassification reduces the purchasing power of workers, which undermines the entire economy. Meanwhile, law-compliant employers are at a disadvantage when competing with employers who misclassify employees and pay them less than the law requires and fail to provide other worker protections based on employment.

The Department of Labor issued a final rule regarding worker classification in January 2021, but the new administration decided to withdraw the rule in May 2021. Last March, a U.S. district court overturned the withdrawal decision, which means the January 2021 rule remains in effect.

“We remain committed to ensuring that employees are properly recognized when they are in fact employees so that they benefit from the protections provided by the FLSA,” the Labor Department wrote. “At the same time, we recognize the important role legitimate independent contractors play in our economy. We need to hear from workers and employers as we develop our proposal. Accordingly, we will be holding public forums in June to hear various perspectives from those who may be affected by the classification of employees or independent contractors. »

Controversial subject

The issue of worker classification has been controversial, particularly in the trucking industry.

The California Trucking Association believes that State Assembly Bill 5, which has passed, will end the owner-operator model of trucking in the state. The trucking group sued, prompting a temporary injunction that prevents enforcement of the law against motor carriers. The United States Supreme Court is expected to decide soon whether or not to hear the California Trucking Association case. LL

Harry L. Blanchard