Client Alerts, News Articles & Blog Posts

Everything you need to know about BMD and the industry.

DOL Proposes New Rule Regarding Independent Contractor Status - But How Will the Election Affect Its Future?

On September 22, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a new proposed rule regarding employee and independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The full text of the proposed rule is available here. The rule's drafters intend to reduce uncertainty and enhance the precision and predictability of the long-standing "economic reality" test, which currently relies on a multifactor balancing test. The proposed rule contains the following developments:

  • It sets forth a new approach to the economic reality test, which 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 would be 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 proposed rule emphasizes that actual practices are more relevant to the analysis than what is theoretically possible in determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor.

This proposed rule would supplant the various approaches to the economic reality test that have evolved in federal courts, the DOL's subregulatory guidance, and industry-specific regulations. It's worth noting that the outcome of the November election could affect the future of this proposed rule. The rule is generally perceived as more business-friendly, and the Trump administration is seeking to fast track this rule for finalization before January 20, 2021. But if it is unable to do so, and Biden defeats Trump, the proposed rule would likely be in jeopardy. Or if Democrats flip the Senate the rule could potentially be undone by Congressional action.

The comment period has not yet begun, but the public will have 30 days to comment on the proposed regulation once it has been published in the Federal Register. The Employment and Labor team at Brennan Manna Diamond is available to assist if you would like to submit a comment regarding this proposed rule.

For more information, please contact Russell Rendall at 216.658.2205 or rtrendall@bmdllc.com. 

CISA Ransomware Practices

On October 28, 2020, the United States Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued an alert warning of imminent threats to US hospitals and healthcare providers. The specific threat involves RYUK Ransomware attacks. RYUK is a novel ransomware that goes undetected by commercial anti-virus/malware detection programs. Once deployed, RYUK encrypts all data and disables systems. In short, it cripples all functionality down to phone systems and automated doors. Healthcare providers should alert their employees to remain hyper-vigilant and report any suspicious activity seen in email or on networks. It has been reported healthcare providers in New York, Pennsylvania and Oregon have been targeted in the last 48 hours. If your organization encounters issues, BMD can assist in mobilizing a response team and has contacts with forensic IT firms that are familiar with RYUK. It is advisable to engage professionals with experience dealing with this specific threat.

HHS Announces an Additional $20 Billion In Provider Relief Grants

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced an additional $20 billion in new funding for providers on October 1, 2020. Eligible providers include those that have already received Provider Relief Fund payments as well as previously ineligible providers, such as those who began practicing in 2020, and an expanded group of behavioral health providers confronting the emergence of increased mental health and substance use issues exacerbated by the pandemic. The new Phase 3 General Distribution is designed to balance an equitable payment of 2% of annual revenue from patient care for all applicants plus an add-on payment to account for revenue losses and expenses attributable to COVID-19.

Major Change to Franklin County, Ohio Eviction Process: Landlord Testimony Required

Although there is currently a nationwide temporary halt on all residential evictions through December 31, 2020 in place, the eviction process in Franklin County – which processes the highest number of evictions in the State of Ohio at approximately 18,000 a year – recently changed significantly.

UPDATE: Governor Dewine Signs HB 606 Granting Short Window of Immunity from COVID-19 Personal Injury Lawsuits

The Ohio General Assembly, in Am. Sub. H.B. No. 606, is in the final stages of passing a law that will prohibit lawsuits seeking damages from COVID-19. This includes injury, death, or loss to person or property if the lawsuits are based, in whole or in part, on the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of the coronavirus, unless the defendant in the lawsuit acted intentionally or recklessly. In circumstances where this immunity does not apply, H.B. 606 prohibits such claims being aggregated and brought as a class action.

Revised Department of Labor FFCRA Guidance, Effective September 16, 2020

In response to attacks on the legality of the Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Final Rule regarding the Families First Coronavirus Act (“FFCRA” or the “Act”), which took effect in April 2020, the Department of Labor issued new guidance on Friday, September 11th to formally address ongoing questions and concerns related to the COVID-19 legislation.