Friday, February 23, 2024

Beacon Center files lawsuit challenging new federal gig worker rule

By Jon Styf | The Center Square, Feb 21, 2024 -Tennessee’s Beacon Center filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Labor over its Independent Contractor Rule on behalf of a pair of Nashville-based freelance journalists.

The new rule will begin using a six-factor test to determine independent workers' legal protections and compensation starting March 11 for gig workers.

"Tennesseans should be able to choose how they earn a living without unnecessary and unproductive government interference,” said Beacon Center Director of Legal Affairs Wen Fa. “The federal government is wrong to assume that everyone wants to be an employee. Poll after poll shows that most freelancers prefer to earn a living through freelance work. That's why we're helping Nashville-based freelancers fight back against the federal government's attempt to destroy their right to freelance."

The Center Square previously reported the six factors are any opportunity for profit or loss a worker might have; the financial stake and nature of any resources a worker has invested in the work; the degree of permanence of the work relationship; the degree of control an employer has over the person's work; whether the work the person does is essential to the employer's business; and a factor regarding the worker's skill and initiative.

Beacon argues the new rule is vague and the department did not stipulate how to weigh the new factors.

Freelance journalists Margaret Littman and Jennifer Chesak are the plaintiffs in the case. Littman has been a freelance reporter for 30 years while Chesak began her work in 2010.

“Ms. Chesak wants to remain an independent contractor because freelance work provides her with opportunity, flexibility, and control over her career,” the lawsuit states.

Rod's Comment: I hope Beacon prevails and commend the organization for taking this action. 

I am close friends with a wonderful person who has a disability and could not work at all if she had to work regular hours.  She works for Grubhub.  Some days her condition keeps her from getting out of bed. She may only be able to work a couple hours a night, some days.  Sometimes she has good days and can work longer.  Sometimes she will work some every day for several days in a row and then sometimes she will go days and not work at all. She draws disability but it is insufficient to make ends meet and she wants to work when she is able. Gig work is perfect for her.  I hope she is not reclassified as an employee and loses her job.

For more on this topic, see the following:
The Wall Street JournalWhat Type of Worker Are You? Government Has New Test for Who Should Be on Payroll. 

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