Trucking companies that use independent contractors could be breathing a sigh of relief after the Department of Labor Wednesday withdrew an Obama-era guidance that some viewed as an attack on the owner-operator model used in trucking.
The Department announced the withdrawal of its informal guidance (“Administrator’s Interpretations”) on the issues of joint employment and independent contractors in 2015 and 2016 memos authored and issued under the former administration’s Wage and Hour Division Administrator, David Weil.
This withdrawal has no effect on the legal obligations of employers under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The announcement of this withdrawal signals a return to a less overtly employment-favored standard or test, and suggests the Department’s general direction toward reliance on the rule of law.
This departure from these informal guidance memos also signals less emphasis on the singular issue of exclusivity in the relationship between an independent contractor and transportation company, which appeared to be the cornerstone of these Administrator’s Interpretations. It remains to be seen how many states will follow suit.