Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Please Support Common Dreams This #GivingTuesday

Our staff has grown and our coverage of the climate emergency, COVID-19, and rising authoritarianism has intensified over the last two years. But, our expenses during the pandemic have gone up as well. This has been one of the toughest years we’ve ever faced. Donations are down. Traffic to the website from Google and Facebook have inexplicably fallen off a cliff. If we have any chance of meeting our fundraising targets for the year, we need this to be the best #GivingTuesday ever. Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers ever make a donation. We're counting on you. Can you make that gift today to help Common Dreams end the year strong?

Please Help This #GivingTuesday -- Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers give. We’re counting on you. Please help Common Dreams end the year strong.

For Immediate Release

Press Release

EPI Applauds Judge’s Decision on Joint-Employer Rule

Trump’s rule would have cost workers more than $1 billion annually

Statement by Heidi Shierholz, Senior Economist and Director of Policy at EPI:

Yesterday, a federal judge in New York struck down most of the joint-employer rule that was issued by the Trump Department of Labor (DOL). The challenge to the rule was brought by 18 state attorneys general, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James. This is an important win for workers. EPI estimated that the rule would cost workers more than $1 billion annually by increasing wage theft and by incentivizing workplace fissuring.

EPI strongly opposed the DOL’s proposed rule and applauds the federal judge’s decision. The rule dramatically narrowed the set of circumstances whereby a firm can be found to be a joint employer under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA is our nation’s fundamental worker protection statute, providing wage and hour protections to the vast majority of U.S. workers. It was drafted broadly, creating employer coverage to ensure that companies that use staffing, temp, or subcontractors in their business operations are held accountable for complying with the FLSA’s basic provisions, including minimum wage, overtime, and child labor protections. The Trump DOL’s rule would have made it nearly impossible for many workers to enforce these rights and would have taken away the ability of workers to recover unpaid wages from firms who use low-wage contractors in their work.

The Trump administration rule addressed both “vertical” and “horizontal” joint-employment. Vertical joint-employment is when one firm contracts work out to another firm and both firms are employers of the contracted firm’s workers, whereas horizontal joint employment is when two firms share the services of an employee. The court vacated the rule’s provisions on vertical joint-employment, which were egregious, and left in place the rule’s provisions on horizontal joint employment, which were largely non-substantive.

The decision was scathing and the judge found that “the Department’s novel interpretation for vertical joint employer liability conflicts with the FLSA and is arbitrary and capricious.” The decision also cited DOL’s failure to address EPI’s analysis of the rule’s cost to workers, stating “EPI estimated that the Final Rule would cost workers $1 billion per year. The Department did not have to agree with that estimate… But by ignoring EPI’s estimate, the Department effectively assumed that the Final Rule would cost workers nothing—an obviously unreasonable assumption.


EPI is an independent, nonprofit think tank that researches the impact of economic trends and policies on working people in the United States. EPI’s research helps policymakers, opinion leaders, advocates, journalists, and the public understand the bread-and-butter issues affecting ordinary Americans.

WHO, South Africa Urge Nations to Lift 'Naive' Omicron Travel Bans

"The only thing the prohibition on travel will do is to further damage the economies of the affected countries and undermine their ability to respond to, and recover from, the pandemic."

Brett Wilkins ·

EU Joins Rights Group in Condemning Israel's 'Day of Destruction' of Palestinian Homes

"Demolitions are illegal under international law and significantly undermine the prospects for peace."

Brett Wilkins ·

GOP 'Silence Speaks Volumes,' Says Ilhan Omar as Boebert's Bigotry Goes Unpunished

"Normalizing this bigotry not only endangers my life but the lives of all Muslims. Anti-Muslim bigotry has no place in Congress."

Brett Wilkins ·

Africans Should Be 'Applauded, Not Punished,' Say Advocates Amid Omicron Travel Ban

"What is going on right now is inevitable," said African Union Vaccine Delivery Alliance co-chair Dr. Ayoade Alakija. "It's a result of the world's failure to vaccinate in an equitable, urgent, and speedy manner."

Brett Wilkins ·

Biden Drilling Report Blasted as 'Shocking Capitulation to the Needs of Corporate Polluters'

"Greenlighting more fossil fuel extraction, then pretending it's OK by nudging up royalty rates, is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic," said one campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo