Department Of Labor Issues Final Rule On FLSA’s Joint Employer Standard

Jackson Lewis P.C.
Contact

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has released its Final Rule updating regulations governing “joint employer” status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The regulations have not been updated in more than 60 years.

Following the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) issued by the DOL in April 2019, the new regulations seek to provide a more uniform interpretation that gives employers greater certainty, as well as to reiterate the DOL’s “longstanding position that a business model — such as the franchise model — does not itself indicate joint employer status under the FLSA.” The new test focuses on whether the purported joint employer “exercises substantial control over the terms and conditions of the employee’s work.” The Final Rule abandons prior interpretations that subjected employers to the risk of being liable as joint employers if they were “not completely disassociated” from a worker.

Four Primary (Non-Exclusive) Factors

Derived from the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Bonnette v. California Health & Welfare Agency, 704 F.2d 1465 (9th Cir. 1983), the DOL has adopted a four-factor balancing test assessing whether the purported joint employer:

  • Hires or fires the employee;
  • Supervises and controls the employee’s work schedules or conditions of employment;
  • Determines the employee’s rate and method of payment; and
  • Maintains the employee’s employment records.

In the NPRM, the DOL noted that four other circuit courts of appeal have adopted tests that are similar to the Bonnette test. While the DOL acknowledges in the Final Rule that some federal circuits have adopted a different joint employer analysis, it adds that it “has previously promulgated interpretive guidance regarding joint employer liability that overtly conflicts with the approach taken in a particular federal circuit[] … [a]nd given the divergent views of joint employment in the circuit courts, it would not be possible to provide detailed guidance that is consistent with all of them.” The DOL also points out that these circuit court opinions, at least in part, have been based on a “broad” interpretation of the FLSA that calls for a “narrow construction” of exemptions to the FLSA. It notes that this view was abrogated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 in favor of a “fair reading” of the FLSA, “neither narrow nor broad.”

The Final Rule clarifies that not all four factors must be satisfied and that “[n]o single factor is dispositive in determining joint employer status, and the appropriate weight to give each factor will vary depending on the circumstances.” It also emphasizes that “additional factors may be considered, but only if they are indicia of whether the potential joint employer exercises significant control over the terms and conditions of the employee’s work.”

The Final Rule provides that neither “standard contractual language reserving a right to act” nor maintenance of employment records, in and of themselves, will demonstrate joint employer status. With respect to the latter, the Final Rule defines “employment records” as those, “such as payroll records, that reflect, relate to, or otherwise record information pertaining to the first three factors (i.e., hiring or firing, supervision and control of the work schedules or conditions of employment, or determining the rate and method of payment”).

Actual, Not Theoretical, Exercise of Control Required

The Final Rule states:

[T]o be a joint employer under the Act, the other person must actually exercise – directly or indirectly – one or more of the four control factors. The other person’s ability, power, or reserved right to act in relation to the employee may be relevant for determining joint employer status, but such ability, power, or right alone does not demonstrate joint employer status without some actual exercise of control.

In the way, the DOL walked back the position it proposed in the NPRM (that the reserved right to act was wholly irrelevant for determining joint employer status). It concluded “that the reserved right to act can play some role in determining joint employer status, though there still must be some actual exercise of control.” For example, the Final Rule notes:

[I]f a potential joint employer sets the wage rate for an employee and sets his or her weekly work schedule, and there was also evidence that this entity has authority to fire the employee at any time, then this reserved power would be relevant to the analysis and could properly be considered.

Furthermore, the Final Rule provides that “indirect control” is demonstrated by “mandatory directions to another employer that directly controls the employee.” On the other hand, “the direct employer’s voluntary decision to grant the potential joint employer’s request, recommendation, or suggestion does not constitute indirect control that may demonstrate joint employer status. Acts that incidentally impact the employee also do not indicate joint employer status.” The Final Rule states, “For example, a restaurant could request lower fees from its cleaning contractor, which if agreed to, could impact the wages of the cleaning contractor’s employees. But this request would not constitute an exercise of indirect control over the employee’s rate of payment because the cleaning service has discretion to lower its employees’ wages or not.”

Economic Dependence Irrelevant

Unlike the reserved right to act, however, which the DOL concedes may have some relevance, an employee’s economic dependence on a potential joint employer is irrelevant. Such dependence comes into play in determining whether an individual qualifies as an “employee,” but whether that individual is jointly employed is a separate analysis under the FLSA. Therefore, economic-dependence-based factors, such as whether the employee is in a specialty job or one requiring special skill, initiative, judgment, or foresight; whether the employee has the opportunity for profit or loss based on his or her skill; whether the employee invests in equipment, materials or helpers to do the work; or the number of other, similar contractual relationships the potential joint employer has, are not relevant.

Some Business Models and Practices Considered “Neutral”

Expanding on those mentioned in the NPRM, the Final Rule identifies a number of business models, business practices, and contractual agreements that are considered to be neutral in their existence. That is, they do not, in and of themselves, make a finding of joint employer liability either more or less likely. These include:

  • Operating as a franchisor;
  • Operating under a “brand and supply business model,” i.e., where “one business agrees to sell another business’ products under that business’ brand name and comply with certain brand standards and signage requirements, without agreeing to limitations or requirements for other products or services offered;”
  • Contractual provisions “intended to encourage legal compliance or promote desired societal effects,” such as provisions requiring an employer to institute workplace safety practices, sexual harassment policies, wage floors, and morality clauses;
  • “[B]usiness practices where a potential joint employer merely provides or shares resources or benefits with an employer,” such as providing sample handbooks and business forms;
  • Allowing an employer to operate a facility on its premises;
  • Offering an association health or retirement plan to the employer or participating in such a plan with the employer, or jointly participating with an employer in an apprenticeship program — absent evidence that the potential joint employer controlled the use of the resources or benefits by the employer’s employees;
  • Requiring quality control standards and ensuring that the work actually meets the required standards;
  • Indicating or even mandating the time and place of performance of that work that best meets their business needs, unless the potential joint employer “actually acts directly or indirectly to determine how employees’ schedules, routes, or other working conditions will be altered or changed so that the potential joint employer’s time and location needs can be met, rather than leaving such decisions to the employer’s discretion”; and
  • “Suggesting [vs. requiring] methods or providing materials that a franchisee, sub-contractor, or other entity can use to improve their business strategies or profitability.”

To provide additional guidance and clarity, the Final Rule incorporates a number of examples of business and employer-employee relationships to show what does, and does not, create joint employer liability.

Working Separate Jobs, Hours for Multiple Employers

A joint employment relationship may exist where an employee performs distinctly separate jobs for two (or more) different employers and “the employers are sufficiently associated with respect to the employment of the employee.” Under such circumstances, the Final Rule provides, “they are joint employers and must aggregate the hours worked for each for purposes of determining compliance with the [FLSA].” Employers “will generally be ‘sufficiently associated’ if there is ‘an arrangement between them to share the employee’s services;’ ‘[o]ne employer is acting directly or indirectly in the interest of the other employer in relation to the employee;’ or [t]hey share control of the employee, directly or indirectly, by reason of the fact that one employer controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with the other employer.’” A determination of joint employer liability under these circumstances “will depend on all of the facts and circumstances” but “certain business relationships . . . which have little to do with the employment of specific workers [(e.g., sharing a vendor or being co-franchisees)] are alone insufficient to establish that two employers are sufficiently associated to be joint employers.”

What’s Next?

The Final Rule is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on January 16, 2020, and, barring any legal challenges, will go into effect 60 days later (on March 16, 2020). Whether, and to what extent, the federal courts will defer to the new regulations remains to be seen.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Jackson Lewis P.C. | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Jackson Lewis P.C.
Contact
more
less

Jackson Lewis P.C. on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
- hide

JD Supra Privacy Policy

Updated: May 25, 2018:

JD Supra is a legal publishing service that connects experts and their content with broader audiences of professionals, journalists and associations.

This Privacy Policy describes how JD Supra, LLC ("JD Supra" or "we," "us," or "our") collects, uses and shares personal data collected from visitors to our website (located at www.jdsupra.com) (our "Website") who view only publicly-available content as well as subscribers to our services (such as our email digests or author tools)(our "Services"). By using our Website and registering for one of our Services, you are agreeing to the terms of this Privacy Policy.

Please note that if you subscribe to one of our Services, you can make choices about how we collect, use and share your information through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard (available if you are logged into your JD Supra account).

Collection of Information

Registration Information. When you register with JD Supra for our Website and Services, either as an author or as a subscriber, you will be asked to provide identifying information to create your JD Supra account ("Registration Data"), such as your:

  • Email
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Company Name
  • Company Industry
  • Title
  • Country

Other Information: We also collect other information you may voluntarily provide. This may include content you provide for publication. We may also receive your communications with others through our Website and Services (such as contacting an author through our Website) or communications directly with us (such as through email, feedback or other forms or social media). If you are a subscribed user, we will also collect your user preferences, such as the types of articles you would like to read.

Information from third parties (such as, from your employer or LinkedIn): We may also receive information about you from third party sources. For example, your employer may provide your information to us, such as in connection with an article submitted by your employer for publication. If you choose to use LinkedIn to subscribe to our Website and Services, we also collect information related to your LinkedIn account and profile.

Your interactions with our Website and Services: As is true of most websites, we gather certain information automatically. This information includes IP addresses, browser type, Internet service provider (ISP), referring/exit pages, operating system, date/time stamp and clickstream data. We use this information to analyze trends, to administer the Website and our Services, to improve the content and performance of our Website and Services, and to track users' movements around the site. We may also link this automatically-collected data to personal information, for example, to inform authors about who has read their articles. Some of this data is collected through information sent by your web browser. We also use cookies and other tracking technologies to collect this information. To learn more about cookies and other tracking technologies that JD Supra may use on our Website and Services please see our "Cookies Guide" page.

How do we use this information?

We use the information and data we collect principally in order to provide our Website and Services. More specifically, we may use your personal information to:

  • Operate our Website and Services and publish content;
  • Distribute content to you in accordance with your preferences as well as to provide other notifications to you (for example, updates about our policies and terms);
  • Measure readership and usage of the Website and Services;
  • Communicate with you regarding your questions and requests;
  • Authenticate users and to provide for the safety and security of our Website and Services;
  • Conduct research and similar activities to improve our Website and Services; and
  • Comply with our legal and regulatory responsibilities and to enforce our rights.

How is your information shared?

  • Content and other public information (such as an author profile) is shared on our Website and Services, including via email digests and social media feeds, and is accessible to the general public.
  • If you choose to use our Website and Services to communicate directly with a company or individual, such communication may be shared accordingly.
  • Readership information is provided to publishing law firms and authors of content to give them insight into their readership and to help them to improve their content.
  • Our Website may offer you the opportunity to share information through our Website, such as through Facebook's "Like" or Twitter's "Tweet" button. We offer this functionality to help generate interest in our Website and content and to permit you to recommend content to your contacts. You should be aware that sharing through such functionality may result in information being collected by the applicable social media network and possibly being made publicly available (for example, through a search engine). Any such information collection would be subject to such third party social media network's privacy policy.
  • Your information may also be shared to parties who support our business, such as professional advisors as well as web-hosting providers, analytics providers and other information technology providers.
  • Any court, governmental authority, law enforcement agency or other third party where we believe disclosure is necessary to comply with a legal or regulatory obligation, or otherwise to protect our rights, the rights of any third party or individuals' personal safety, or to detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security or safety issues.
  • To our affiliated entities and in connection with the sale, assignment or other transfer of our company or our business.

How We Protect Your Information

JD Supra takes reasonable and appropriate precautions to insure that user information is protected from loss, misuse and unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration and destruction. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. You should keep in mind that no Internet transmission is ever 100% secure or error-free. Where you use log-in credentials (usernames, passwords) on our Website, please remember that it is your responsibility to safeguard them. If you believe that your log-in credentials have been compromised, please contact us at privacy@jdsupra.com.

Children's Information

Our Website and Services are not directed at children under the age of 16 and we do not knowingly collect personal information from children under the age of 16 through our Website and/or Services. If you have reason to believe that a child under the age of 16 has provided personal information to us, please contact us, and we will endeavor to delete that information from our databases.

Links to Other Websites

Our Website and Services may contain links to other websites. The operators of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using our Website or Services and click a link to another site, you will leave our Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We are not responsible for the data collection and use practices of such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of our Website and Services and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Information for EU and Swiss Residents

JD Supra's principal place of business is in the United States. By subscribing to our website, you expressly consent to your information being processed in the United States.

  • Our Legal Basis for Processing: Generally, we rely on our legitimate interests in order to process your personal information. For example, we rely on this legal ground if we use your personal information to manage your Registration Data and administer our relationship with you; to deliver our Website and Services; understand and improve our Website and Services; report reader analytics to our authors; to personalize your experience on our Website and Services; and where necessary to protect or defend our or another's rights or property, or to detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security, safety or privacy issues. Please see Article 6(1)(f) of the E.U. General Data Protection Regulation ("GDPR") In addition, there may be other situations where other grounds for processing may exist, such as where processing is a result of legal requirements (GDPR Article 6(1)(c)) or for reasons of public interest (GDPR Article 6(1)(e)). Please see the "Your Rights" section of this Privacy Policy immediately below for more information about how you may request that we limit or refrain from processing your personal information.
  • Your Rights
    • Right of Access/Portability: You can ask to review details about the information we hold about you and how that information has been used and disclosed. Note that we may request to verify your identification before fulfilling your request. You can also request that your personal information is provided to you in a commonly used electronic format so that you can share it with other organizations.
    • Right to Correct Information: You may ask that we make corrections to any information we hold, if you believe such correction to be necessary.
    • Right to Restrict Our Processing or Erasure of Information: You also have the right in certain circumstances to ask us to restrict processing of your personal information or to erase your personal information. Where you have consented to our use of your personal information, you can withdraw your consent at any time.

You can make a request to exercise any of these rights by emailing us at privacy@jdsupra.com or by writing to us at:

Privacy Officer
JD Supra, LLC
10 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 300
Sausalito, California 94965

You can also manage your profile and subscriptions through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard.

We will make all practical efforts to respect your wishes. There may be times, however, where we are not able to fulfill your request, for example, if applicable law prohibits our compliance. Please note that JD Supra does not use "automatic decision making" or "profiling" as those terms are defined in the GDPR.

  • Timeframe for retaining your personal information: We will retain your personal information in a form that identifies you only for as long as it serves the purpose(s) for which it was initially collected as stated in this Privacy Policy, or subsequently authorized. We may continue processing your personal information for longer periods, but only for the time and to the extent such processing reasonably serves the purposes of archiving in the public interest, journalism, literature and art, scientific or historical research and statistical analysis, and subject to the protection of this Privacy Policy. For example, if you are an author, your personal information may continue to be published in connection with your article indefinitely. When we have no ongoing legitimate business need to process your personal information, we will either delete or anonymize it, or, if this is not possible (for example, because your personal information has been stored in backup archives), then we will securely store your personal information and isolate it from any further processing until deletion is possible.
  • Onward Transfer to Third Parties: As noted in the "How We Share Your Data" Section above, JD Supra may share your information with third parties. When JD Supra discloses your personal information to third parties, we have ensured that such third parties have either certified under the EU-U.S. or Swiss Privacy Shield Framework and will process all personal data received from EU member states/Switzerland in reliance on the applicable Privacy Shield Framework or that they have been subjected to strict contractual provisions in their contract with us to guarantee an adequate level of data protection for your data.

California Privacy Rights

Pursuant to Section 1798.83 of the California Civil Code, our customers who are California residents have the right to request certain information regarding our disclosure of personal information to third parties for their direct marketing purposes.

You can make a request for this information by emailing us at privacy@jdsupra.com or by writing to us at:

Privacy Officer
JD Supra, LLC
10 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 300
Sausalito, California 94965

Some browsers have incorporated a Do Not Track (DNT) feature. These features, when turned on, send a signal that you prefer that the website you are visiting not collect and use data regarding your online searching and browsing activities. As there is not yet a common understanding on how to interpret the DNT signal, we currently do not respond to DNT signals on our site.

Access/Correct/Update/Delete Personal Information

For non-EU/Swiss residents, if you would like to know what personal information we have about you, you can send an e-mail to privacy@jdsupra.com. We will be in contact with you (by mail or otherwise) to verify your identity and provide you the information you request. We will respond within 30 days to your request for access to your personal information. In some cases, we may not be able to remove your personal information, in which case we will let you know if we are unable to do so and why. If you would like to correct or update your personal information, you can manage your profile and subscriptions through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard. If you would like to delete your account or remove your information from our Website and Services, send an e-mail to privacy@jdsupra.com.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Privacy Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our Privacy Policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use our Website and Services following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, the practices of this site, your dealings with our Website or Services, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: privacy@jdsupra.com.

JD Supra Cookie Guide

As with many websites, JD Supra's website (located at www.jdsupra.com) (our "Website") and our services (such as our email article digests)(our "Services") use a standard technology called a "cookie" and other similar technologies (such as, pixels and web beacons), which are small data files that are transferred to your computer when you use our Website and Services. These technologies automatically identify your browser whenever you interact with our Website and Services.

How We Use Cookies and Other Tracking Technologies

We use cookies and other tracking technologies to:

  1. Improve the user experience on our Website and Services;
  2. Store the authorization token that users receive when they login to the private areas of our Website. This token is specific to a user's login session and requires a valid username and password to obtain. It is required to access the user's profile information, subscriptions, and analytics;
  3. Track anonymous site usage; and
  4. Permit connectivity with social media networks to permit content sharing.

There are different types of cookies and other technologies used our Website, notably:

  • "Session cookies" - These cookies only last as long as your online session, and disappear from your computer or device when you close your browser (like Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Safari).
  • "Persistent cookies" - These cookies stay on your computer or device after your browser has been closed and last for a time specified in the cookie. We use persistent cookies when we need to know who you are for more than one browsing session. For example, we use them to remember your preferences for the next time you visit.
  • "Web Beacons/Pixels" - Some of our web pages and emails may also contain small electronic images known as web beacons, clear GIFs or single-pixel GIFs. These images are placed on a web page or email and typically work in conjunction with cookies to collect data. We use these images to identify our users and user behavior, such as counting the number of users who have visited a web page or acted upon one of our email digests.

JD Supra Cookies. We place our own cookies on your computer to track certain information about you while you are using our Website and Services. For example, we place a session cookie on your computer each time you visit our Website. We use these cookies to allow you to log-in to your subscriber account. In addition, through these cookies we are able to collect information about how you use the Website, including what browser you may be using, your IP address, and the URL address you came from upon visiting our Website and the URL you next visit (even if those URLs are not on our Website). We also utilize email web beacons to monitor whether our emails are being delivered and read. We also use these tools to help deliver reader analytics to our authors to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

Analytics/Performance Cookies. JD Supra also uses the following analytic tools to help us analyze the performance of our Website and Services as well as how visitors use our Website and Services:

  • HubSpot - For more information about HubSpot cookies, please visit legal.hubspot.com/privacy-policy.
  • New Relic - For more information on New Relic cookies, please visit www.newrelic.com/privacy.
  • Google Analytics - For more information on Google Analytics cookies, visit www.google.com/policies. To opt-out of being tracked by Google Analytics across all websites visit http://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout. This will allow you to download and install a Google Analytics cookie-free web browser.

Facebook, Twitter and other Social Network Cookies. Our content pages allow you to share content appearing on our Website and Services to your social media accounts through the "Like," "Tweet," or similar buttons displayed on such pages. To accomplish this Service, we embed code that such third party social networks provide and that we do not control. These buttons know that you are logged in to your social network account and therefore such social networks could also know that you are viewing the JD Supra Website.

Controlling and Deleting Cookies

If you would like to change how a browser uses cookies, including blocking or deleting cookies from the JD Supra Website and Services you can do so by changing the settings in your web browser. To control cookies, most browsers allow you to either accept or reject all cookies, only accept certain types of cookies, or prompt you every time a site wishes to save a cookie. It's also easy to delete cookies that are already saved on your device by a browser.

The processes for controlling and deleting cookies vary depending on which browser you use. To find out how to do so with a particular browser, you can use your browser's "Help" function or alternatively, you can visit http://www.aboutcookies.org which explains, step-by-step, how to control and delete cookies in most browsers.

Updates to This Policy

We may update this cookie policy and our Privacy Policy from time-to-time, particularly as technology changes. You can always check this page for the latest version. We may also notify you of changes to our privacy policy by email.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about how we use cookies and other tracking technologies, please contact us at: privacy@jdsupra.com.

- hide

This website uses cookies to improve user experience, track anonymous site usage, store authorization tokens and permit sharing on social media networks. By continuing to browse this website you accept the use of cookies. Click here to read more about how we use cookies.