Employment Lawyer: Joint Employers Under the Fair Labor Standards Act

Two or more employers may jointly employ one employee at the same time. In the Eleventh Circuit, the appropriate analysis was provided under Aimable v. Long & Scott Farms, 20 F.3d 434, 443 (11th Cir 1994) and Antenor v. D& S. Farms, 88 F.3d 925, 932 (11th Cir. 1996). For example, under Aimable, the Court tried to determine whether a farm that contracted with a farm labor contractor to provide laborers, were joint employers under the Migrant and Seasonal Agriculture Worker Protection Act. In holding that the contracting company was not a “joint employer,” the Court relied mainly on five regulatory factors: (1) the nature and degree of control of the workers; (2) the degree of supervision, direct or indirect, of the work; (3) the power to determine the pay rates or the method of payment among the workers; (4) the right, directly or indirectly, to hire, fire, or modify the employment conditions of the workers; and (5) the preparation of payroll and payment of workers’ wages. The Court also evaluated the ownership of the facilities where the work occurred and the performance of a specialty job integral to the business. The Court also recognized that the relevant investment of the alleged employers may be relevant to the analysis.

In Antenor, the Eleventh Circuit examined these same eight factors to determine joint employment. But as in Aimable, the Eleventh Circuit stated that the analysis is not static. “The focus of each inquiry . . . must be on each employment relationship as it exists between the worker and the party asserted to be the joint employer.” “No one factor is determinative” and “the existence of a joint employer relationship depends on ‘the economic reality’ of all the circumstances. The factors are “aids-tools to be used to gauge the degree of dependence of alleged employees on the business to which they are connected. It is dependence that indicates employee status. Each [factor] must be applied with that ultimate motion in mind.” “[A] joint employment relationship is not determined by a mathematical formula.”

In Antenor, the Eleventh Circuit distilled the eight factors, which it derived from Aimable: (1) the nature and degree of the control of workers; (2) the degree of the supervision of the work; (3) the right to hire, fire, or modify employment conditions; (3) the power to determine pay rates and methods of payment; (4) the preparation of payroll and or the payment of wages; (5) the ownership of facilities where the work occurred; (6) the performance of line-job integral to business and (8) investment in equipment and facilities. In its evaluation of these factors, the Eleventh Circuit concluded that the grower and labor contractors were a joint employer of the farm workers.

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