The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently updated its strategic enforcement plan for 2017 to 2021. The plan outlines the priorities that the EEOC will seek to address over the next four years. Employers should pay extra attention to these priorities when evaluating their practices. Although it is recommended that employers review the plan in its entirety, this update highlights one item in particular being emphasised by the plan: the use of independent contractors.

The strategic enforcement plan adds a priority that it identifies 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 that attempt to avoid certain employment liabilities by misclassifying workers as independent contractors instead of employees.

In light of this, employers should evaluate their use of independent contractors to determine whether an individual should instead be classified as an employee. Further, employers utilising a staffing agency should scrutinise its agreements with those entities to ensure that proper safeguards and employer protections are in place (ie, wage and hour compliance and possible indemnification).

For further information please contact Barret Van Sicklen at DeWitt Ross & Stevens SC by telephone (+1 608 255 8891) or email (bvv@dewittross.com). The DeWitt Ross & Stevens SC website can be accessed at www.dewittross.com.

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