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EEOC Issues Strategic Enforcement Plan for Fiscal Years 2017-2021

Published:  January 17, 2017

      The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently issued its Strategic Enforcement Plan for fiscal years 2017-2021 (“Enforcement Plan”).  The Enforcement Plan gives employers valuable insight into emerging areas of employment law that the EEOC has deemed a priority.  Through the Enforcement Plan, the EEOC has served notice that it will be monitoring the rise of the “on demand” economy.

       Employers today are familiar with many different kinds of employment relationships.  The use of independent contractors, temporary workers, staffing agencies, and the rise of on-demand businesses such as Uber are common.

        From an employer's perspective, the advantage of using independent contractors and staffing agencies to meet their work force needs is obvious.  Employers utilize a workforce at a lower cost than if they had employees serving the same purpose.  The savings on employee benefits can then be used to bolster the company’s bottom line.  From an employee perspective, the loss of benefits as well as a long-term employment relationship is troubling.

       If employers are considering using independent contractors, they will want to make sure that their written agreements are clearly set for the responsibilities and duties of each party.  Unfortunately, the court system has many pending cases in which there is a dispute as to whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor.  In Massachusetts, the law provides that the court must examine the facts of each individual case to determine whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor as a matter of law. Which means that, if an employer isn’t aware of the wording in its contracts, the individual the employer believes is an independent contractor could later be determined by a court to be an employee.  This determination obviously impacts many areas of the relationship, including: employee benefits, workers compensation insurance, unemployment, and employer liability.

      While the EEOC’s efforts in recent years have been largely based in employment discrimination, the Enforcement Plan serves to remind employers of the EEOC’s broad powers in enforcing employment law. 

If you have any questions regarding the EEOC’s Enforcement Plan, independent contractor agreements, or any other employment law matter, please contact the attorneys at Royal, P.C.