5th Cir. resets independent contractor fight as new rule looms

Business advocates and the U.S. Department of Labor can resume their fight over independent contractor regulations, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided Monday (Coalition v. Su).

The litigation began after the Biden administration in 2021 nixed a Trump-era rule on the issue. Business groups challenged that withdrawal, arguing DOL overstepped its authority. A federal district court judge agreed, and the Biden administration appealed that ruling to the 5th Circuit. The appeals court issued a stay pending DOL’s publication of a new rule.

Biden’s DOL finalized its own version of the regulations in January, with a March 11 effective date, leading the 5th Circuit to lift its stay Monday at the request of the business groups. The court also vacated the lower court’s opinion at DOL’s request, sending it back for the court to revisit.

Considering this and other litigation related to the new regulations, a court could very well put the upcoming rules on hold, an employment law attorney told HR Dive last month; but with the effective date just weeks away, employers should monitor developments closely, he said.