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California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, as part of a coalition of 18 attorneys general, filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) new rule limiting joint employer liability under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Under the Trump Administration’s new rule, Bacerra claims it would become substantially more difficult to establish when organizations are inappropriately shielding themselves from joint employment liability under the FLSA. In the lawsuit, the coalition argues that the rule is contrary to the FLSA’s statutory purpose and violates the Administrative Procedure Act.

In filing the lawsuit, the states argue that the rule’s definition of joint employer does not adequately reflect today’s workplaces, where growing numbers of businesses are outsourcing functions to third-party management companies, independent contractors, staffing agencies, or labor providers.

Entities found to be joint employers can be held accountable for workplace violations against an employee, even if the person is formally employed by another entity.

However, the new rule would make it much harder to establish joint employer liability. For example, under the new rule, employers can attempt to avoid liability by simply asserting that, although they had the ability to exercise control, they did not in fact exercise it.

The coalition further argues that the rule is an unreasonable interpretation of statute, that DOL does not articulate a satisfactory reasoned explanation for the rule, and that DOL lacks critical information and dismisses data and analysis assessing the impact of the rule on workers and joint employers.

While DOL’s rule will create harmful and unnecessary confusion, Bacerra said that workers in California will continue to be protected by the state’s broad definition of an employer.

In filing the lawsuit, Attorney General Becerra joins the attorneys general of New York, Pennsylvania, Colorado, District of Columbia, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.