19 AGs oppose Trump admin's narrowing of 'joint employer' status

19 AGs oppose Trump admin's narrowing of 'joint employer' status
© Greg Nash

Nineteen attorneys general sent a letter to the Labor Department on Tuesday to express their opposition to a proposed rule that would narrow the interpretation of joint employer status, in which an employer and joint employer share responsibility for an employee's pay. 

The attorneys general believe the rule would complicate "how states enforce labor laws"  and leave "millions of workers vulnerable to labor violations" according to a statement from New York Attorney General Letitia James's office. 

"USDOL has failed to justify this new rule and draws on outdated analysis that does not consider the changing nature of today’s workplace relationships, including the fact that a growing number of businesses are changing organizational models by outsourcing integral functions, but still maintaining control of workers," the statement said, referring to the Labor Department.


Attorneys general from New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Rhode Island, North Carolina and Wisconsin sent the letter. 

“Narrowing the definition of ‘joint employer’ would deny workers’ legal protections and potentially allow employers to evade justice for committing labor violations," said the statement from James, who co-led the effort alongside her counterparts in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. "Mistreating workers is unacceptable, and we will continue to ensure that bad actors are held accountable.”

In April, the Labor Department proposed a test to determine whether a potential joint employer has the power to hire or fire the employee, supervise and control the employee’s work schedules or conditions of employment, determine the employee’s rate and method of payment, and maintain the employee’s employment records.

In a notice announcing the proposed test, the department characterized it as "based on well-established precedent."

A Labor Department spokesperson declined to comment, saying that the department can't comment during proposed rulemaking. 

The spokesperson referred The Hill to a statement about the proposed rule in which Labor Secretary Alexander AcostaAlex Alexander AcostaOn The Money: Trump slams relief bill, calls on Congress to increase stimulus money | Biden faces new critical deadlines after relief package | Labor rule allows restaurants to require broader tip pooling Labor rule allows restaurants to require broader tip pooling Federal litigator files complaint alleging Labor secretary abused his authority MORE said it "will reduce uncertainty over joint employer status and clarify for workers who is responsible for their employment protection."

—Last updated at 5:04 p.m.