October 23, 2020

Warren Joins Brown, Colleagues to Oppose Administration’s Attempt To Further Misclassify Workers

DOL’s Proposed Rule Would Implement Misguided Test to Determine If a Worker Is an Employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, DC – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) joined Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), along with a group of Senate colleagues in a letter urging U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Eugene Scalia to rescind a proposed rule regarding classification of workers as employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The rule proposes a misguided test to determine if a worker is an employee under the FLSA, failing to address rampant misclassification of workers as independent contractors. This creates incentives for employers in all industries to further misclassify workers who should be protected by the FLSA. If finalized, this rule would exclude millions of workers from critical minimum wage and overtime protections, contribute to stagnating wages, and exacerbate economic inequality for American workers, particularly workers of color.

“It is unconscionable that DOL, the agency tasked with enforcing the FLSA, is proposing to exempt millions of workers from the law’s safeguards,” wrote the senators. “By issuing this proposed rule, particularly during a pandemic when millions of workers have lost their jobs and millions more are lacking critical benefits because they are classified as independent contractors, DOL makes clear that its intent with the rule is not to protect workers but to rubber-stamp corporate profit-maximizing schemes responsible for the hollowing out of the American middle class and growing the racial wealth gap.” 

Along with Senators Warren and Brown, this letter was signed by U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tammy Baldwin, (D-Wis.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

Senator Warren, a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, has been a staunch advocate for working-class people. 

  • In June 2019, Senator Warren opposed the DOL's proposal to dramatically narrow the definition of "employer" under the FLSA, which would weaken wage-and-hour protections for workers all across the country.

  • In April 2020, Senator Warren called for an end to worker misclassification as part of her Essential Workers Bill of Rights.

  • Senator Warren wrote an op-ed calling for companies like Uber and Lyft to stop denying workers their rights by misclassifying them as independent contractors.

  • In May 2020, Senator Warren introduced legislation along with Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) to ensure workers get fair access to legal remedy during the coronavirus pandemic.