Professor comments on Dep. of Labor rule

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January 17, 2020

The U.S. Department of Labor released a final Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) rule on Sunday to replace the one joint employer guidance that the Trump administration rescinded in 2017. Dean of the Heller School of Social Policy and Management David Weil, former administrator of the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division under then-President Barack Obama, commented that the rule implemented by the administration of President Donald Trump will affect the way joint employment is understood, according to Bloomberg News.

“Clearly this is the secretary and the wage-and-hour administrator saying this is our interpretation of joint employment, it’s very narrow, and we’re not going to pursue it in lots of cases that historically, even under this administration, they have,” said Weil in the article. “This is going to clearly dampen both the solicitors’ and wage-and-hour investigators’ use of joint employment as a concept.”

The FLSA, implemented in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “set nationwide standards for employees of organizations engaged in interstate commerce, operations of a certain size, and public agencies,” according to Encyclopedia.com. 

The new rule imposes a stricter standard for when a person is considered to be jointly employed by multiple businesses, for purposes of determining overtime and wages. If they are considered to be jointly employed, hours worked at both businesses are added together to determine the number of hours they worked and whether or not they are owed overtime pay, according to JDSUPRA. The new rule adds new conditions which need to be fulfilled in order for someone to be considered a joint employee. The rule will be effective March 16, 60 days after it was published, according to Bloomberg Law.

“The U.S. Department of Labor is updating and revising the Department’s interpretation of joint employer status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA or Act) in order to promote certainty for employers and employees, reduce litigation, promote greater uniformity among court decisions, and encourage innovation in the economy,” reads the rule. 
Weil was made dean of the Heller School in August of 2017, according to the Brandeis University Faculty Guide. Prior to working at Brandeis, Weil was a professor of management at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. In 2014 Weil was appointed by Obama as the Administrator of the Department of Labor’s Wages and Hour Division, a position which he held until January 2017. He has done “decades of research on labor, employment, and the structure of labor markets and labor policy.” He received the Father Edward F. Boyle Award, Cushing-Gavin Award of the Labor Guild, Archdiocese of Boston in 2017 and the Frances Perkins Intelligence and Courage Award in 2019.

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