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A skilled labor and employment attorney and highly educated labor management scholar, Rob advises clients across the United States, including closely held companies, publicly traded corporations, local units of government, K-12 school districts, charter schools, community colleges, and state universities.

The U.S. Department of Labor on Tuesday unveiled a six-step “economic realities” test that looks to narrow the ability of employers to classify workers as independent contractors. The changes have broad implications as to whether, under federal law; workers are entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay; employers must comply with recordkeeping requirements for such employees; and payroll taxes such as FICA, workers’ compensation, and unemployment must be paid with respect to these workers. The misclassification of workers as independent contractors also can have dire consequences for employers based on the potential assessment of liquidated (double) damages and attorney’s fees under the Fair Labor Standards Act, particularly where such claims are brought as collective actions. The Department suggests that 10-30% of employers in the private sector are, per the proposed rule, misclassifying employees as contractors.
Continue Reading Employees in Disguise: Proposed Rule Would Roll Back Trump-era Independent Contractor Rule

On Thursday, July 28, 2022, the Michigan Supreme Court issued its opinion in Rouch World, LLC v. Department of Civil Rights, finding in a 5-2 decision that Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (“ELCRA”) protects against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. While so holding, the Court overturned precedent set nearly 30 years ago by the Michigan Court of Appeals in Barbour v. Department of Social Services. That court had relied upon then analogous federal precedent in holding that the same statute did not extend protection on the basis of sexual orientation, as “sex” in the context of ELCRA meant only “gender discrimination, not discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
Continue Reading Michigan Supreme Court Recognizes Protection Under State Law Against Discrimination Based on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation

All too often, employers find this out the hard way—they get audited by the U.S. Department of Labor or they get sued, and vis-à-vis a class action, to boot. On June 13 and 14, during the Society of Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) Annual Conference in New Orleans, I’ll address a number of compliance issues and also discuss recent initiatives on the wage and hour front from inside The Beltway. Among the issues that we’ll  dive into are:
Continue Reading Wage and Hour Compliance: It’s Not as Simple as it May Look!

On January 13, 2022, the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion on the application for stay filed in National Federal of Independent Business v. Department of Labor. In that opinion, a six-member majority of the Court ruled that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had exceeded its authority in issuing an emergency technical standard requiring the vaccination of employees of larger employers.
Continue Reading Off Again: United States Supreme Court Blocks OSHA COVID-19 ETS

A few things employers should consider as the New Year approaches

As a new year approaches, one thing many have in common is wondering about what lies ahead. Here are just a few things employers should be considering. The overarching theme? Compliance.

Every year, laws change. For employers, these changes flag new compliance issues. This year, perhaps more than any in recent history, this exercise is more critical. Congress is primed to enact new laws in the pending infrastructure package which has, in part, set this in motion. The Biden Administration and the President’s appointments to various agencies have also dramatically made this concern even more important. These changes will require employers to review how they have been operating over the years, and how these statutory and other legal developments will require them to alter their practices going forward. This article highlights a few of these items.

Continue Reading Labor & Employment Compliance in 2022

The Solicitor of Labor has commented that the ETS is expected to be published in the coming weeks. The ETS will go into effect immediately upon publication except for those states with their own OSHA-type laws. Those states will have up to 30 days to conform their laws to the federal edict, and once they do so, the edict will apply to the same employers subject to the federal order, plus other employers the states choose to extend the rule to, such as public employers.

Continue Reading To Vax or Not to Vax: No Longer a Question for Larger Private Employers Under Biden’s Vaccine Mandate

On July 29, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced a final rule rescinding the Trump Administration’s Joint Employer rule. This move clearly reestablishes the DOL’s quest to broaden the scope of potential liability for businesses under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for the wrongs of their subcontractors, franchisees and other entities. This move is consistent with the Biden Administration’s trend to reinstate the measures taken under the FLSA by the Obama Administration, including those taken to broaden the scope of who could be deemed joint employers under the FLSA. The rule promulgated by the Trump Administration had replaced an Administrator’s Guidance issued by the Wage and Hour Administrator of the Obama Administration, David Weil. Consistent with this trend, David Weil has been nominated to serve the current administration in the same role he held during the Obama Administration.

Continue Reading DOL Rescinds Trump-Era Joint Employer Rule: Employers Beware!

The Problem

The Biden DOL is primed to aggressively pursue errors made with respect to the payment of overtime compensation as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). While doing so, it’s also primed to assert claims for liquidated damages whenever it finds errors, even for errors that were inadvertent, and even for those that may seem nominal. These liquidated damages are equal to the amount of unpaid overtime its investigators deem due.

Continue Reading Lessening Liability for Unpaid Overtime Pay Claims: The Best Defense is a Good Offense

In this episode of Insights & Updates, Robert Boonin, from Dykema’s Labor & Employment Group, and James Brandell, a Government Policy Advisor in Dykema’s Washington, D.C., office, discuss the evolving legal standards for determining who are “independent contractors” versus “employees” in the eyes of the courts, the Department of Labor (DOL), and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). This is critical due to the Biden Administration’s apparent view being that many independent contractors are really misclassified employees, and such misclassifications expose employers to substantial liability.

Continue Reading Insights & Updates – Independent Contractor Changes