Our nation’s employment laws, including the civil rights laws, were written in the last century when employers used employees to carry out their business. In the 21st century, many companies have moved toward a gig economy, which helps them avoid paying employee benefits and offers them the potential to evade coverage under existing laws.
The federal agency in charge of discrimination laws, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, announced this week that it is onto this issue. One of EEOC’s latest priorities, listed in its brand new Strategic Enforcement Plan is “clarifying 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.” https://www1.eeoc.gov//eeoc/plan/sep-2017.cfm?renderforprint=1
The EEOC already offers some excellent instruction on the subject of joint employers and staffing agencies in its Compliance Manual and Enforcement Guidance. We look forward to comprehensive regulations and effective enforcement efforts that will bring worker legal protections into the 21st century.