On January 25, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) reversed an Obama-era decision addressing the standard for distinguishing between independent contractors and employees. The prior NLRB held that if a worker is economically dependent on the business providing the work (i.e., the business provides most or all of the work done by that worker), then that person is most likely an employee, not an independent contractor. The Trump-appointed NLRB majority reversed that “economic dependence” standard in its recent Super Shuttle decision, 367 NLRB No. 75 (Jan. 25, 2019), holding instead that it will analyze independent contractor vs. employee status using the traditional 10-factor common law test viewed through the prism of “entrepreneurial opportunity.”

That means the Trump Board will likely find independent contractor (and not employee) status if the putative contractor has the independence to make more or less by doing more or less either within the contractual relationship at issue or with other businesses (i.e., a broad “scope for entrepreneurial initiative”). The more control a single business exercises over a putative contractor, the narrower the scope for enhanced money-making initiative, and the more likely the NLRB will find employee status.

Yesterday, the National Labor Relations Board vacated Hy-Brand Industrial Contractors amidst controversy surrounding Member Bill Emanuel’s participation in the decision. That decision leaves intact the Obama-board’s expanded joint employer standard from Browning-Ferris Industries of California, at least until the Board finds another vehicle to overturn the case.

The NLRB’s Office of Inspector General issued a report finding that Member Emanuel should have recused himself from the Hy-Brand decision in light of the close connection between his prior law firm, which represented one of the parties in Browning-Ferris, and the issues in Hy-Brand.  The Board noted that report when it issued its Order vacating the decision.

Today, the NLRB issued two landmark cases reversing precedent on the Board’s test for work rules and joint employment. In The Boeing Company, 365 NLRB No. 154, the Board reversed a 2004 decision that prior Boards used to find unlawful “a large number of common-sense work rules and requirements that most people would reasonably expect every employer to maintain.” In Hy-Brand Industrial Contractors, Ltd., 365 NLRB No. 156, the Board overruled the Browning-Ferris joint-employment test and returned to requiring direct control over essential terms and conditions of employment before it will find joint employment status.

Continue Reading NLRB Changes Course on Work Rules and Joint Employment

House Republicans recently introduced H.R. 3441, a bill that aims to clarify and narrow the definition of “joint employer” under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The bill proposes the following uniform definition:

Continue Reading House Republicans Seek to Narrow Definition of ‘Joint Employer’ Under NLRA and FLSA