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DOL reverts to pre-Obama era view of independent contractors

Pennsylvania workers who are unclear of their should note that the federal Department of Labor under the Trump administration has rescinded interpretations published during the Obama years. These statements of guidance were meant to steer legal rulings on whether a person was an independent contractor as opposed to an employee. With the department's withdrawal of these guidelines, courts may continue to apply traditional views to these type of cases.

The interpretations created during President Obama's second term sought to address cases of people classified incorrectly as independent contractors instead of actual employees. With the apparent return to traditional interpretations, courts might focus more on the level of control exerted by an employer to determine whether the worker was actually an independent entrepreneur.

An administrator's interpretation issued in 2016 has also been voided. This one expanded the definition of joint employment and could have potentially increased the number of companies classified as employers. Although the attempts of the Obama administration to recognize the rise of the gig economy and contract laborers have ended, legal experts predict that litigation concerning violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act will continue to increase.

A person who believes that an employment relationship is violating employee rights might benefit from an attorney's analysis of the situation. An attorney could investigate complaints such as the denial of benefits, unpaid overtime or wage claims. To protect the person's rights, an attorney could organize the evidence and file court paperwork. Initially, an attorney could approach the employer and explain the violations, which might lead to a possible remedy. Otherwise, an attorney could take the case to court and present information about the employer's violations of labor law. Damages sought might include compensation for unpaid work and benefits.

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