Company was not just a client under FLSA regulations

by on April 2, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Be careful what you ask a vendor’s employee to do. Under FLSA laws, they may become your employee

If you ask a worker who is employed by one of your vendors to do extra work at your place of business, you’d better watch out: Under the FLSA regulations, you might be considered his employer.

Unpaid, but who’s at fault?

When a deliveryman got into a pay dispute with the service where he worked, he sued not only the d service, but also the department store that had contracted with the delivery service, and where the deliveryman spent many of his work hours.

The store balked. In court it argued that it had had a deal with the delivery service. The store made adequate payments to the service in order to compensate the deliveryman.
According to the store, the delivery service was a vendor, and the deliveryman was the vendor’s employee. If the service underpaid him, it was their responsibility, not the store’s under FLSA regulations.

But a judge viewed it differently. The deliveryman had been routinely asked by store managers to stock shelves, help customers and make inter-store deliveries instead of just standing around waiting to make an outside delivery.

None of those tasks was part of his job as a deliveryman. The court found that the department store was not a client, but a “joint employer.” As such, it was responsible for ensuring that the deliveryman’s employment was in compliance with FLSA regulations. In making its ruling, the court said of joint employers, “The more responsible employer cannot be excused if the other takes money for itself and diverts it from employees entitled to their due.”

Cite: Faty Ansoumana v. Gristede’s Operating Corp., U.S. District Court, Southern District of NY, No. 00 Civ. 253 (AKH), 3/11/03.

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