Just before Christmas the Department of Labor expanded its independent contractors’ website, adding resources from other federal and state agencies regarding employee misclassification.
However, there is nothing really new in what was added to the site, notes attorney Richard J. Reibstein of the law firm of Pepper Hamilton.
“This appears to be the Labor Department’s effort to create a type of one-stop shopping page for government materials on independent contractors,” he says.
“Indeed, some of the materials date back over 15 years and other resources are likely to confound and confuse more than elucidate the public on independent contractor misclassification.”
Resources include DOL documents with conflicting definitions of independent contractor status as well as a 175-page comparison of unemployment laws that devotes only four pages to IC status, and a 195- page unemployment study from the year 2000.
The new site appears to have been slapped together hastily, Reibstein notes. “In effect, this new website is not a whole lot different than the first few pages of a google search for independent contractors, supplemented with some out of date materials.”
The centerpieces of the new Web addition are the two links with new graphics. One is called the “Myths about Misclassification,” as well as an abbreviated version of the “Myths” Web page.
The added material perpetuates DOL’s mistaken position that the determination of IC status under federal law rests on a one-factor test: economic dependence, Reibstein observes. “This view is in contrast to court cases that hold that no one factor is determinative of IC status.”
He says DOL hopes for more workers to believe that they are misclassified, leading to more complaints filed and enforcement actions initiated at the state and federal levels.
It is unclear how long the new website will survive in a Trump administration (AA, 12-31-16, P. 1).