On September 8, 2020, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York struck down portions of a January 2020 Final Rule issued by the Department of Labor. The Final Rule provided a new test for determining whether an entity is a joint employer with another entity under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Final Rule, which became effective in March of 2020, severely limited the situations in which an entity can be considered a joint employer and held liable for violations of the FLSA in a “vertical” joint employment relationship. A vertical joint employment relationship is the variety of joint employment that exists when there is some sort of intermediary, like a staffing firm, PLA, or temp agency between the employee and the employer that ultimately benefits from the employee’s work. We discussed “horizontal” joint employment in a prior post.
Several states, including Illinois, filed suit challenging the Final Rule’s legality with respect to the Final Rule’s changes to the vertical joint employment determination. Historically, courts and the DOL have made clear that control over an individual’s employment is not the dispositive factor in determining whether an entity is a joint employer with another entity. Instead, whether a joint employment relationship exists depends upon whether the employee in question is economically dependent upon the potential joint employer.