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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. 

BMD Appellate Win Clarifies Waiver of Contractual Right to Arbitrate

Brennan, Manna & Diamond, LLC attorneys David M. Scott, Lucas K. Palmer, and Krista D. Warren prevailed before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit regarding if/when a party waives a contractual right to arbitrate. Borror Property Management, LLC v. Oro Karric North, LLC, No. 20-3146 (the “Decision”).

Relief for Ohio Under the Federal American Rescue Plan Act

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (the “Act”) — a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package — a significant portion of which will be directed to the State of Ohio to support economic recovery, as outlined below.

Cleveland Manufacturer Violated OFAC Sanctions By Allowing Shipments To Iran - Know Your Customer and Know Their Customer

UniControl, Inc., a Cleveland, Ohio manufacturer of process controls, airflow pressure switches, boiler controls and other instruments, agreed to pay the Office of Foreign Assets Control “OFAC,” the financial enforcement agency of the U.S. Treasury Department, $216,464 to settle its liabilities for violations of the Iran Sanctions Program. OFAC stated that “this enforcement action highlights the importance of identifying and assessing multiple warning signs that indicate a foreign trade partner may be re-exporting goods to a sanctioned jurisdiction.”

Ohio Breach of Contract Statute of Limitations Shortened to 6 Years

On March 16, 2021, Governor DeWine signed into law S.B. 13 which shortens Ohio’s statute of limitations for filing lawsuits based on breach of contract. A statute of limitation is the time period within which a party must file a lawsuit before its claim expires as a matter of law.

Chinese Product Tariff Challenge Causes Flurry of Importer Lawsuits

A lawsuit filed late in 2020 at the U.S. Court of International Trade (“CIT”) challenging the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) implementation of Section 301 “List 3” and “List 4” duties on products from China, HMTX Industries LLC et al. v. United States (Court No. 20-00177), has resulted in the filing of thousands of additional lawsuits brought by other affected importers. There are now 3,700+ companies added to the list, including Ford, Home Depot, Target, Tesla, and Walgreens, along with many other smaller importers.