HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro secured a major victory for workers across Pennsylvania and the nation today, as the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled in his favor. Shapiro sued the Trump Administration to stop its illegally narrow Joint Employer Rule, which changed how entities may be held jointly liable for wage and hour violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
“I will never stop working to protect Pennsylvanians from predatory employers and I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with our sister states to fight this unjust rule,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “The joint employer rule would have done untold harm to workers’ wages and made it harder to hold bad actors accountable, and I am pleased that the Court found that it was unlawful.”
In February 2020, Attorney General Shapiro and New York Attorney General Letitia James led a coalition of 18 attorneys general in filing a lawsuit challenging a DOL rule that unlawfully narrows the joint employment standard under FLSA. Importantly, the joint employment standard provides certain protections for workers when more than one employer exerts sufficient influence over a worker’s employment. The Trump Administration’s Joint Employer Rule undermined critical workplace protections for the country’s workers, and would have had an especially devastating effect on the most vulnerable low-and middle-income workers.
The Court’s decision comes after the Trump Administration disregarded a letter sent by the coalition in March 2020, urging it to immediately stop the implementation of the Joint Employer Rule. In the letter, the coalition emphasized that the proposed rule was not only illegal but cruel, as the country was beginning to deal with the devastating economic effects of COVID-19. The Trump Administration was put on notice that workers who earn hourly wages — and who would be most negatively affected by the rule — are also those most likely to suffer the adverse economic impacts caused by COVID-19, such as having hours reduced or being laid off. The Trump Administration rejected the coalition’s request. Accordingly, the coalition proceeded in the litigation and today’s decision, largely granting the coalition’s motion for summary judgment, establishes the illegality of the Trump Administration’s proposed action.
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