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DOL Finalizes New Rule Regarding Independent Contractor Status, But Its Future Is In Jeopardy

Client Alert

On January 6, 2021, the Department of Labor announced its final rule regarding independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act. As described in a prior BMD client alert, this new rule was fast-tracked by the Trump administration after its proposal in September 2020. The new rule is set to take effect on March 8, 2021, and contains several key developments related to the "economic reality" test used to determine whether an individual is an independent contractor or an employee under the FLSA.

The new rule represents a more employer-friendly approach, intended to be more precise and predictable than the existing multifactor balancing test.

  • This new approach to the economic reality test considers whether a worker is in business for themselves or is economically dependent on the putative employer by looking at five distinct factors.     
  • Two core factors are given greater weight in determining whether or not the worker is economically dependent: the nature and degree of the worker's control over the work, and the worker’s opportunity for profit or loss based on initiative and/or investment.
  • Three other factors may also contribute to the analysis, including the amount of skill required for the work, the degree of permanence of the working relationship, and whether the work is part of an integrated unit of production.
  • The final rule prioritizes analysis of actual practices over what is theoretically possible in determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor.

However, this rule is likely in immediate jeopardy as Democrats are set to control all three branches of government in the coming weeks. The United States Department of Labor is a cabinet-level department and the appointees to lead those departments will not face the check of a Republican controlled Senate. Although the DOL moved quickly enough to finalize the rule before Biden takes office, because the rule’s effective date falls after the transition, the new administration may be able to delay the effective date of the rule by up to 60 days. During this postponement, the Biden administration could seek to propose a new rule or repeal the Trump administration rule through the administrative rule-making process.

In addition, the results of the senatorial elections in Georgia have great significance for recently finalized rules. The Congressional Review Act gives Congress the power to halt rules shortly after they become final, through a congressional resolution of disapproval. Because Democrats will soon control the House, Senate, and Presidency, they will likely have a window of opportunity to nix the DOL’s newly finalized independent contractor rule.  

The BMD Employment and Labor Law Practice Group will keep you updated as further developments arise, and we are available to assist if you have questions regarding independent contractor status under the FLSA.


Valley National Bank/Trulieve Loan: A Big Step Out of the Shadows

In a late December press release, Trulieve announced that it had secured a $71.5 million commercial bank loan. In addition to the amount of the loan, which may be the largest commercial bank loan to date to a cannabis company, the release prominently identified Valley Bank and featured both a quote from Valley’s Senior Vice President, John Myers, and a description of the Bank’s service platform and commitment to the cannabis industry.

The End of Non-Competes? The Impact It Will Have on the Healthcare Industry

On January 5, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced a proposed rule that, if enacted, will ban employers from entering into non-compete clauses with workers (the “Rule”), and the Rule would void existing non-compete agreements. In their Notice, the FTC stated that if the Rule were to go into effect, they estimate the overall earnings of employees in the United States could increase by $250 billion to $296 billion per year. The Rule would also require employers to rescind non-competes that they had already entered into with their workers. For purposes of the Rule, the FTC has defined “worker” to also include any employees, interns, volunteers, and contractors.”

2022 Healthcare Recap and 2023 Healthcare Check-Up

As the country begins to return to a new “normal” following the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many healthcare rules changing on both the federal and state levels as a result. Thus, it is important for healthcare providers and their employers to be aware of these changing rules, and any implications they may have on their practice. Look back on healthcare in 2022 and find a checklist for 2023.

Direct Support Professional Retention Payments

On December 15, the Ohio Senate and House passed House Bill 45, which authorizes the Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD), in conjunction with the county boards of developmental disabilities, to launch their initiative to issue retention payments to Direct Support Professionals (DSPs). These retention payments will be distributed quarterly to participating home and community-based waiver providers to address the workforce crisis in the direct provider sector. Governor DeWine needs to sign the Bill to begin the payments, but he is expected to do so by the end of 2022.

Real Estate Investors Position for 2023 Opportunities

Real estate investors weathered another year in a post-pandemic world, with the year closing with yet another interest rate increase coupled with both uncertainty and heightened interest carrying into 2023. Just last Wednesday, the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate 0.50 percentage points, shifting the target range to 4.25% to 4.50%. The new level is the highest the fed funds rate has been since December 2007 and marks the seventh rate hike this year. So what does this mean to investors, brokers, lenders, and others in the real estate world? Read a few perspectives below from stakeholders familiar with our BMD clients and the markets in which they do business.