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EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan Adds Priority Regarding Independent Contractor Relationships

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently updated its strategic enforcement plan (SEP) for 2017-2021. The SEP outlines the priorities the EEOC will seek to address over the next four years. Employers should pay extra attention to these priorities when evaluating their practices. Although we recommend employers review the SEP in its entirety, we want to highlight one item in particular being emphasized by the SEP – the use of independent contractors.

The SEP added a priority that it identified as an “emerging and developing issue” aimed to address complex employment relationships and structures in the 21st century workplace surrounding “temporary workers.” The priority seeks to clarify “the employment relationship and the application of workplace civil rights protections in light of the increasing complexity of employment relationships and structures, including temporary workers, staffing agencies, independent contractor relationships, and the on-demand economy.” The EEOC is creating a framework to reprimand companies attempting to avoid certain employment liabilities by misclassifying workers as independent contractors instead of employees.

In light of this, we suggest employers evaluate their use of independent contractors to determine whether or not an individual should instead be classified as an employee. Additionally, those employers utilizing a staffing agency should scrutinize its agreements with those entities to make sure proper safeguards and employer protections are in place (i.e. wage and hour compliance and possible indemnification).

Should you have any questions, please consult your DeWitt attorney.

About the Author

Barret Van Sicklen is an attorney practicing out of our Madison office. He is a member of the Labor & Employment Relations, Litigation, and Real Estate & Land Use practice groups. Contact Barret by email or by phone at (608) 252-9386.

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