As part of its ongoing employee misclassification initiative, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced a partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Bureau of Labor Law Compliance (BLLC), to coordinate efforts to prevent employee misclassification with respect to independent contractors or other non-employee statuses. Pennsylvania, along with 31 other states, will now share information and coordinate investigations with the federal government to "enhance enforcement" of both federal and state wage and hour laws.

According to the DOL, the three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) provides a framework under which the federal and state agencies "will work together to provide accessible outreach to employers, employees and other stakeholders, and conduct coordinated investigations, as well and share information and resources to increase enforcement of the misclassified worker law."

Under the terms of the MOU, the DOL and the BLLC will meet annually to address "areas of mutual concern" and review "the terms and conditions of the partnership." Though the MOU purports to facilitate "clear, accurate, and easy-to-access outreach to employers, employees, and other stakeholders," the substance of the MOU focuses squarely on enforcement, explicitly stating the primary aim of providing for joint investigations and coordination of enforcement activities. In addition, the DOL and the BLLC "will make referrals of potential violations of each other's statutes."

As with the agreements reached with other states, the partnership between the DOL and the BLLC highlights the DOL's renewed focus on misclassification issues, particularly with respect to independent contractors. Ballard Spahr's Labor and Employment Group presented a webinar on the subject this year. A recording of the webinar and the slides from the program are available here.

Ballard Spahr's Labor and Employment Group regularly assists clients with worker misclassification issues and Fair Labor Standards Act compliance, audits, and litigation, and has extensive experience guiding employers through exemption audits and reclassifications.

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