The Fourth District Court of Appeals issued opinions in two joint employment cases last week. Meanwhile, a New Jersey judge ruled an arbitration clause for independent contractor Uber drivers is valid. An Illinois lawmaker introduces a bill mandating equal pay for temporary workers.
Joint employment rulings
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals last week reversed the rulings of a lower court in two cases involving joint employment, and a report by law firm Fisher Phillips argues the cases create a new standard that could impact employers.
“In a pair of sure-to-be controversial decisions, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals created a new and troubling standard to determine whether individuals should be considered ‘joint employees’ of multiple entities,” according to Fisher Phillips’ report. “The new standard, which makes it far easier for employers to be caught up as defendants in wage and hour claims, may very well be adopted by other courts and leak into other areas of the country.”
In one case, in-home technicians working for DirectSat, a subcontractor for DirecTV, argued they were improperly classified as independent contractors and that they were jointly employed by DirectSat and DirectTV. A district court dismissed the case, but the Fourth District Court of Appeals reinstated it saying there has been alleged sufficient fact to make out a plausible claim that defendants jointly employed them.
The second case, Salinas v. Commercial Interiors, involves Maryland workers with J.I. General Contractors Inc. The workers claim they were co-employed by Commercial Interiors, the contractor for which J.J. General Contractos did the majority of its work.
New Jersey Uber IC case must go to arbitration
A federal judge in New Jersey dismissed an independent contractor misclassification case against Uber that had sought class action status. The court ruled the case should go to arbitration per language in Uber’s contract.
Judge Freda Wolfson noted in her opinion the named plaintiff clicked that he agreed to an Uber contract calling for arbitration through the Uber app. The arbitration portion of the contract was near the top of the page, and the contract allowed the driver to continue driving without agreeing to arbitration as long as he opted out within 30 days. The driver did not do that.
The judge also ruled Uber’s arbitration agreement did not violate the Federal Arbitration Act.
The case is Singh v. Uber.
Illinois equal payment bill
An Illinois lawmaker last week introduced a new bill that would require temporary workers to be paid the same as a traditionally hired employee doing the same work. It would also require staffing buyers to conduct a job hazard analysis for each job, and would make staffing buyers liable obligation to pay in some cases.
Illinois Representative Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, introduced the law last week.
In addition to the changes for buyers, it would add rules for staffing firms as well. Those would include notifying workers of schedule and length of assignment in writing and requiring staffing firms provide transportation back to the point of hire at the end of each day.
The bill comes amid concerns about alleged practices of some companies outline in a report by the Chicago Tribune.