Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – February 2, 2024

  1. A Health Professional’s Guide to Navigating the Disciplinary Process: What to Expect if You Are Facing a Professional Licensing Investigation or Administrative Complaint

Health professionals are committed to caring for patients with expertise, compassion, and integrity. However, in the heavily regulated healthcare field, those professionals can sometimes find themselves navigating not just the medical challenges of their patients but licensing issues of their own as well. Licensing issues can arise unexpectedly, and, when they do, they can cause tremendous stress and uncertainty.

Why it Matters: As an attorney with years of experience handling professional licensing matters for health professionals, Robert J. Andretz has witnessed firsthand how professional licensing investigations and Administrative Complaints can disrupt health professionals’ careers and their ability to provide patient care. He will explore how to navigate the disciplinary process in Michigan so that you can know what to expect if you are ever faced with a threat to your license. Learn more.

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  1. Understanding How Trademarks, Copyrights, and Patents Protect Your Business

Trademark registration separates your business from your competition and makes you unique. It is one method of protecting your intangibles while publicly providing notice to other businesses or individuals to avoid copying or infringing on your intellectual property rights.

Why it Matters: But when do you need this? When do you get them? And what are they for? Learn more on this series about trademarks, copyrights, and patents from Fraser Trebilcock attorney Andrew Martin.

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  1. Ward Off 2024 Tax Season Flu – File Early and Electronically

Earlier this week, January 29, 2024, marked the start date for the 2024 filing season and the first date that the IRS will begin accepting and processing 2024 returns. The IRS will issue most electronically filed refunds within 21 days, however there are a variety of factors that can delay the issuance of any refund claim outside of the 21-day period, so one should not rely on receiving a refund within 21-days.

Why it Matters: It is important to file early and electronically to avoid any delays in receiving a refund, if applicable. If you have any questions, contact your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

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  1. The DOL Issues Final Rule Creating New Standard for Classifying Workers as Employees vs. Independent Contractors

On January 9, 2024, the United States Department of Labor released its final rule on worker classification under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Why it Matters: This new rule, effective as of March 11, 2024, signals a return to a standard more likely to classify workers as employees than contractors. Thus, it is more likely that employers will be determined to have misclassified workers as contractors, resulting in liability. Learn more from your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

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  1. Michigan Legal Cannabis Sales Hit New Record in 2023

Licensed cannabis dispensaries in Michigan registered a record $3.06 billion in sales in 2023. This represents a 25% increase over sales in 2022. Recreational cannabis accounted for $2.74 billion of total sales in 2023.

Why it Matters: According to an analysis by Metro Times, more than $274 million in tax revenue from cannabis sales will go to local governments, schools, and roads.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Professional Licensing | Robert Andretz
Intellectual Property | Andrew Martin
Business & Tax | Paul McCord
Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | David Houston
Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher

Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – January 26, 2024

  1. Michigan Amendment Imposes Reporting Requirement for Broker-Dealers and Investment Advisers to Report Financial Exploitation of Vulnerable Adults

Effective March 13, 2024, an amendment to the Michigan Uniform Securities Act (new Section 451.2533) will take effect that is intended to protect elder and vulnerable adults from financial exploitation. Among other things, the law requires broker-dealers and state-registered investment advisers to report suspected financial exploitation to a law enforcement agency or adult protective services.

Why it Matters: According to the Michigan Department of Attorney General website, more than 73,000 older adults in Michigan are victims of elder abuse, including financial exploitation.

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  1. The DOL Issues Final Rule Creating New Standard for Classifying Workers as Employees vs. Independent Contractors

On January 9, 2024, the United States Department of Labor released its final rule on worker classification under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Why it Matters: This new rule, effective as of March 11, 2024, signals a return to a standard more likely to classify workers as employees than contractors. Thus, it is more likely that employers will be determined to have misclassified workers as contractors, resulting in liability. Learn more from your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

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  1. Michigan Federal Judge Dismisses Complaint Against Firm Client

A Michigan federal judge recently dismissed a complaint against the firm’s client represented by attorneys Thaddeus E. Morgan and Ryan K. Kauffman, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Why it Matters: The complaint alleged that the firm’s client, together with another state bar, illegally conspired to prevent the plaintiff from practicing law in their respective states. However, the Eleventh Amendment prohibits a suit brought in federal court against a state, its agencies and officials, unless the state has waived its sovereign immunity or consented to being sued. The Eleventh Amendment limits federal subject matter jurisdiction, and as a result of the state bar functioning as an extension of the state’s Supreme Court, it is a state agency that possesses Eleventh Amendment immunity. Read more.

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  1. Michigan Cannabis Sales Eclipse $3 Billion in 2023

Michigan cannabis sales total $3,057,161,285.85, via the collection of monthly reports from the Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency. This is a 30% increase from 2022, which saw total sales at $2,293,823,890.11.

Why it Matters: Marijuana sales remain strong in Michigan, particularly for recreational use. However, there still are significant concerns about profitability and market oversaturation that the industry is contending with.

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  1. Client Alert: PCORI Fees Due by July 31, 2024!

In Notice 2023-70, the Internal Revenue Service set forth the PCORI amount imposed on insured and self-funded health plans for policy and plan years that end on or after October 1, 2023, and before October 1, 2024.

Why it Matters: Notice 2023-70 sets the adjusted applicable dollar amount used to calculate the fee at $3.22. Specifically, this fee is imposed per average number of covered lives for plan years that end on or after October 1, 2023, and before October 1, 2024. For self-funded plans, the average number of covered lives is calculated by one of three methods: (1) the actual count method; (2) the snapshot method; or (3) the Form 5500 method. Learn more from your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | David Houston
Litigation | Ryan Kauffman
Litigation | Thaddeus Morgan
Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher
Employee Benefits | Bob Burgee
Employee Benefits | Sharon Goldzweig

The DOL Issues Final Rule Creating New Standard for Classifying Workers as Employees vs. Independent Contractors

On January 9, 2024, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) released its final rule on worker classification under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This new rule, effective as of March 11, 2024, signals a return to a standard more likely to classify workers as employees than contractors. Thus, it is more likely that employers will be determined to have misclassified workers as contractors, resulting in liability.

The New Rule: A Deviation From Trump-Era Classification Standards

The final rule, which is consistent with the proposed rule released by the DOL in October 2022, differs significantly from the Trump Administration’s “core factors” test. The Trump-era rule emphasized two primary factors: the nature and degree of control over the work, and the worker’s opportunity for profit or loss. Three other factors—the skill required, the permanence of the relationship, and whether the work is part of an integrated unit of production—were deemed less significant.

The new rule requires a more detailed and comprehensive analysis by establishing the totality-of-the-circumstances economic reality test, a six-factor test giving equal weight to each factor in determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. The DOL claims that this approach is consistent with how federal courts have evaluated employee vs. independent contractor classification for decades.

The factors outlined in the final rule include:

    1. the worker’s opportunity to share profit or loss,
    2. the investments by the worker and potential employer respectively,
    3. the permanence of the work relationship,
    4. the worker’s or employer’s degree of control over the work,
    5. the integration of the work into the employer’s business, and
    6. the skill and initiative required of the worker.

The final rule also addresses how factors such as scheduling, remote work, and the ability to work for others should be considered under factor four—the control factor—and also provides additional context to other factors as well.

Why This Matters to Michigan Employers

All Michigan employers, as well as employers across the country, who are covered under the FLSA will be impacted by the final rule. Generally speaking, the FLSA applies to employers who have at least two employees and gross $500,000 or more a year. If a worker is classified as an employee as opposed to an independent contractor, then that worker is covered under the FLSA, which sets federal rules for minimum wages and overtime. When the FLSA applies, employers are also required to maintain certain records.An employer who violates the FLSA can be subject to lawsuits, be forced to pay back pay for unpaid overtime, and face fines, among other consequences.

It’s also important for Michigan employers to keep in mind that Michigan has its own standards for independent contractor classification, and the more stringent of the two standards is likely to apply. Currently there is legislation pending in the Michigan legislature that would tighten the definition of “independent contractor” considerably. Under the new bill, an independent contractor is “an individual who performs work” and to whom the following three conditions apply:

    • The individual is free from control and direction of the payer in connection with the performance of the work, both under a contract and in fact.
    • The individual performs work that is outside the usual course of the payer’s business.
    • The individual is engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same work performed by the individual for the payer.

The bottom line is that, under federal and state laws, classifying a worker as an employee or independent contractor requires a complex analysis of various factors. And the risks and consequences of misclassifying can be severe.

Businesses and employers should remain diligent in analyzing their workers’ classifications and consult an experienced attorney with any questions. The attorneys at Fraser Trebilcock Davis & Dunlap, PC will continue to monitor these developments and stand ready to guide clients in their compliance with the new regulations set to take effect.

This alert serves as a general summary and does not constitute legal guidance. Please contact us with any specific questions.


Attorney David J. HoustonFraser Trebilcock Shareholder Dave Houston has over 40 years of experience representing employers in planning, counseling, and litigating virtually all employment claims and disputes including labor relations (NLRB and MERC), wage and overtime, and employment discrimination, and negotiation of union contracts. He has authored numerous publications regarding employment issues. You can reach him at 517.377.0855 or dhouston@fraserlawfirm.com.

Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – January 12, 2024

  1. Cannabis Regulatory Agency Announces $1 Million Social Equity Grant Program

Michigan’s Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA) announced a $1 million grant program to applicants who have a recreational marijuana license, have eligible Social Equity Program participants, and participate in the CRA’s “Social Equity All-Star Program.”

Why it Matters: The program is intended to encourage participation in the industry by people from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition and enforcement.

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  1. Fraser Trebilcock Welcomes Danielle Lofton to the Firm

We are pleased to announce the hiring of attorney Danielle Lofton who will work primarily in the firm’s Lansing office, focusing her practice on insurance defense.

Why it Matters: Ms. Lofton represents clients with personal injury claims including no-fault cases for several years. She has routinely secured early dismissals through successful motions and negotiated favorable settlements for her clients. Learn more.

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  1. Department of Labor Issues New Rule on Independent Contractors

This week, the US Department of Labor issued a new rule modifying its analysis for determining whether a worker is an employee, or an independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The final rule is effective on March 11, 2024.

Why it Matters: We previously reported on the Department of Labor publishing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding classification of employee or independent contractor under the FLSA. Under this final rule effective on March 11, 2024, it will provide clearer guidance for employers and how they determine their workers’ classifications, and further protect employees from misclassification.

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  1. Fraser Trebilcock Attorney Andrew J. Moore Elected to Board of Directors of Catholic Bar Association

We are pleased to announce that attorney ​Andrew J. Moore has been elected to the Board of Directors for the Catholic Bar Association, a national bar association with members in all 50 states. “I am honored to be elected to the Board of Directors, and I look forward to continuing the mission of the Catholic Bar Association,” said Andrew Moore.

Why it Matters: Andrew focuses his practice on general litigation matters, insurance defense, estate and trust administration, real estate transactions, family law, and criminal defense. His experience covers a range of practice areas, from out of court matters such as assisting clients in estate planning and business and tax matters to representing clients at trial in insurance, divorce, and criminal defense proceedings. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Lansing Catholic Lawyers Guild. Read more.

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  1. Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission Required to Redraw Seven House Districts

A three-judge panel ordered this week that the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission redraw seven state House districts by February 2nd, after it was ruled unconstitutional.

Why it Matters: Last year, a group of voters sued the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission alleging that the Commission had violated the federal Voting Rights Act by drawing maps that impacted black voters’ opportunity to elect their preferred candidates.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher
Insurance Law | Danielle Lofton
Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | David Houston
Litigation | Andrew Moore
Election Law

Five Stories That Matter in Michigan This Week – September 8, 2023

  1. DOL Proposed Rulemaking Would Make More White-Collar Workers Eligible for Overtime Pay

The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced a notice of proposed rulemaking which would raise the Fair Labor Standards Act’s salary-level threshold from $35,568 to $55,068 for white-collar exemptions to overtime requirements.

Why it Matters: If the proposed rule becomes a final rule, millions more U.S. salaried workers would eligible for overtime pay.

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  1. Attorney Michael S. Ashton Honored as “Lawyer of the Year” in Utility Law in Lansing

Fraser Trebilcock attorney Michael S. Ashton has been named the Best Lawyers in America© 2024 Utility Law “Lawyer of the Year” in Lansing. This is a high distinction, as only one attorney in each practice area in each community is identified as “Lawyer of the Year.”

Why it Matters: “I am honored to be recognized by Best Lawyers© as a 2024 ‘Lawyer of the Year’ for Utility Law in Lansing,” said Mike Ashton. Because lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed, inclusion in Best Lawyers© is considered a singular honor. Only five percent of attorneys in Michigan are awarded the honor. Read more about Mike.

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  1. Keep Your Michigan Cottage in the Family

The family cottage is a place for fun and relaxation in Michigan. For many, the family cottage becomes the meeting place for generations and where lifelong memories are made. As a result, it’s often the intent of the owner to pass the cottage on to future generations to enjoy. Unfortunately, challenges such as high property taxes and family disputes can prevent that from happening. These obstacles can be overcome through careful cottage succession planning.

Why it Matters: If you own a cottage in Michigan, our Cottage Law team can help you think through the issues and take the actions necessary to create a cottage plan. A cottage plan usually addresses the concerns through the creative use of a limited liability company (LLC) or a trust to own the property. Learn more from your cottage law attorney.

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  1. Gain Peace of Mind Through Life’s Toughest Challenges

Family law involves deeply personal and often emotional issues – that can be as complicated as they are sensitive. A strong family law attorney understands the judicial processes and procedures, while also handling your case with care and compassion.

Why it Matters: Fraser Trebilcock attorney Paula C. Spicer has over a decade of experience assisting clients in family law matters. Paula compassionately and efficiently works with clients to help them understand their options and navigate the often challenging and emotional situations. Learn more how she may be able to assist.

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  1. Business Education Series – Practical A.I. Business Solutions

Explore the transformative potential of Artificial Intelligence in the business landscape during our Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce Business Education Series.

Why it Matters: From understanding the capabilities of AI models like ChatGPT to creating customized workflows using API integrations and automation tools, discover how AI can drive innovation and efficiency across industries. Learn more.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | David Houston
Utility Law | Michael Ashton
Cottage Law | Mark Kellogg
Family Law | Paula Spicer

Five Stories that Matter in Michigan This Week – March 10, 2023

  1. US Supreme Court Makes Clear that Highly Compensated Employees can be Eligible for Overtime Pay

In Helix Energy Solutions Group v. Helix, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that highly compensated employees—in this case the employee at issue earned more than $200,000 per year—can be eligible for overtime pay if they are paid on a daily basis as opposed to a salary basis.

Why it Matters: Many employers mistakenly assume that highly compensated employees are not eligible for overtime pay. However, under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employees are exempt from overtime if they earn at least $107,432 per year on a salary basis (and perform executive, administrative, professional or outside sales work. Because the penalties for noncompliance can be steep, employers should consult with legal counsel to help ensure that their workers are classified and paid in accordance with state and federal guidelines.

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  1. How Copyrights Protect Your Business

Copyright is the exclusive legal protection that covers an original work of authorship. Copyrights vest upon creation of the work, which means placing the work onto a tangible medium (e.g., applying paint to a canvas or words to a screenplay).

Why it Matters: As noted above, copyrights vest upon creation of the work, even if it isn’t published. Similar to trademark law, it can be difficult to enforce your copyright if the work is not registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. Learn more.

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  1. Department of Labor Issues Guidance to Employers on Telework

On February 9, 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a Field Assistance Bulletin (Bulletin) addressing several questions related to compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) when a business employs teleworkers.

Why it Matters: The Bulletin provides that the protections under the FLSA apply equally to employees who telework as to employees working at an office, factory, construction site, retail outlet, or any other worksite location. Learn more.

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  1. Business Education Series – Teaching Leadership

Hosted at the Lansing Regional Chamber, the March Business Education Series will have Brain Town, founder and CEO of Michigan Creative, who will discuss how to inspire your staff to be the leaders they all have inside of them.

Why it Matters: Brian will also show you how to write core values that can guide your business and help form an unstoppable team. Attendees will learn how to write and use core values, leadership tips, and ways to inspire greatness. Business owners and leaders are encouraged to attend! Learn more.

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  1. The Ins and Outs of Cottage Succession Planning in Michigan (Part Two)

A cottage plan is an agreement that describes how a cottage will be shared, managed and passed on to future generations of family members. Cottage plans typically cover a range of issues that can impede the succession of a cottage if left unaddressed.

Why it Matters: There are significant advantages to having a cottage plan that utilizes an LLC or trust structure. There is no single option that is best for all families, so it’s important to consult with an experienced cottage law attorney to determine what option is right for you. Learn more from your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | Aaron Davis

Intellectual Property | Jared Roberts

Cottage Law | Mark Kellogg

DOL Issues Telework Guidance to Employers

As the modern workforce evolves, more and more employees are enjoying the flexibility of working from home, teleworking, or working away from the employer’s premises. These arrangements allow for greater work-life balance, increased productivity, and cost savings. However, as these teleworking arrangements become more common, it is important for both employers and employees to understand the protections and rights available under the law.

On February 9, 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a Field Assistance Bulletin (Bulletin) addressing several questions related to compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) when a business employs teleworkers. While Field Assistance Bulletins do not have the effect of law, they are nonetheless important statements of DOL policy and statutory interpretation.

The Bulletin explains that under the FLSA, employees who telework are entitled to compensation for all hours worked, including short rest breaks. In qualifying circumstances, employees are also entitled to take breaks to express breast milk free from intrusion and shielded from view. The Bulletin provides that the protections under the FLSA apply equally to employees who telework as to employees working at an office, factory, construction site, retail outlet, or any other worksite location. This means that teleworking employees are entitled to the same compensation and protection as employees working at a traditional worksite.

Similarly, under the FMLA, all hours worked are counted for purposes of determining an employee’s eligibility for leave. The Bulletin provides that when an employee teleworks from home consistently or in combination with working at another or various worksites, all of those hours count towards determining eligibility for FMLA leave. However, the determination of the worksite for an employee who teleworks is fact-specific and will be based on factors such as where the employee reports to work or the location where the employee’s assignments are made.

In conclusion, teleworking arrangements provide numerous benefits to both employees and employers. However, it is important to remember that these arrangements do not exempt employees from the protections and rights afforded to them by the FLSA and FMLA. While the Bulletin doesn’t have the force of law, it’s an important indicator of DOL policy regarding FLSA and FMLA enforcement. Employers and employees must be mindful of the protections and rights the DOL describes are due to telework employees to ensure that teleworking arrangements are fair and equitable for all parties involved.

For questions or assistance, please contact your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

This alert serves as a general summary, and does not constitute legal guidance. Please contact us with any specific questions.


Aaron L. Davis is Firm Vice President and Treasurer, and Chair of Fraser Trebilcock’s labor law practice. You can reach him at adavis@fraserlawfirm.com or (517) 377-0822. 

Five Stories that Matter in Michigan This Week – February 24, 2023

  1. $35 Million in Grants Available for Small Nonprofits

The State of Michigan, Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) and Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) have teamed up to help Michigan charities whose operations were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it Matters: Under this initiative, called the MI Nonprofit Relief Fund, grants in amounts between $5,000 and $25,000 will be awarded to selected entities with annual revenues total under $1 million. In addition, eligible entities must be based in Michigan and recognized by the IRS under Section 501(c)(3). Learn more.

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  1. Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency Suspends Licenses, Issues Advisory

The Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA) recently suspended the licenses of a marijuana processor and issued a safety advisory for items manufactured with “illicit product.”

Why it Matters: This action is an important reminder to marijuana businesses in Michigan that the CRA is active in regulating businesses and taking enforcement action when appropriate. TAS Asset Holdings is the second processor to have its license suspended by the CRA this month. The CRA also announced disciplinary action against 10 marijuana businesses on February 10.

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  1. CRA Publishes January 2023 Data, Average Price Drops

Per recent monthly data published by the Cannabis Regulatory Agency, the average retail flower price of an ounce of cannabis is $80.16, an all-time low, and almost a 50% decrease compared to last year’s average price of $152.74.

Why it Matters: While the prices of cannabis and cannabis-related products continue to decrease and make consumers happy, growers on the other hand are seeing profits decrease resulting in them seeking ways to halt new licenses to be granted in an effort to steady prices. Contact our cannabis law attorneys if you have any questions.

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  1. DOL Issues Telework Guidance to Employers

On February 9, 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a Field Assistance Bulletin (Bulletin) addressing several questions related to compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) when a business employs teleworkers.

Why it Matters: The Bulletin provides that the protections under the FLSA apply equally to employees who telework as to employees working at an office, factory, construction site, retail outlet, or any other worksite location.

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  1. ERISA Health and Welfare Plan Voluntary Audit Service

Fraser Trebilcock is excited to introduce our Health and Welfare Plan Voluntary Audit Service to help businesses ensure their health and welfare plans are compliant with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

Why it Matters: ERISA is a complex set of regulations that governs employee benefit plans, including health and welfare plans. Failure to comply with ERISA can result in costly fines and penalties, not to mention damage to your company’s reputation. Learn more from your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.

Related Practice Groups and Professionals

Business & Tax | Robert Burgee
Cannabis Law | Sean Gallagher
Labor, Employment & Civil Rights | Aaron Davis
Employee Benefits | Robert Burgee

Department of Labor Issues New Proposed Rule on Independent Contractors

The US Department of Labor recently issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that, if adopted, would change the standard for analyzing a worker’s classification as either an employee or independent contractor. The new rules are a reversion to prior tests, which consider certain “economic reality factors;” factors that were originally set out in a pair of cases before the Supreme Court of the United States in 1947 (See United States v. Silk, 331 U.S. 704, and Rutherford Food Corp. v. McComb, 331 U.S. 722).

The six non-exhaustive and unweighted factors flowing from those cases and included in this new rule are:

  • The worker’s opportunity for profit or loss depending on managerial skill;
  • The relative investment of the worker and the employer in the equipment, materials, or helpers required for their task;
  • The degree of permanence of the work relationship
  • Nature and degree of control – whether the employer has the right to control the manner in which the work is to be performed;
  • The extent to which the work performed is an integral part of the employer’s business;
  • Whether the service rendered requires a special skill or initiative.

These proposed rules are open for public comment until November 28, 2022.

Relatedly, the Internal Revenue Service recently “streamlined” its various “20 Factor” and other tests for independent contractor determination. See, IRS Publication, Topic No. 762. The Service now groups the prior multiple factors into three topics. The IRS Publication states the employer in making its determination, “must examine the relationship between the worker and the business. You should consider all evidence of the degree of control and independence in this relationship. The facts that provide this evidence fall into three categories – Behavioral Control, Financial Control, and Relationship of the Parties.” We add, however, that this “restatement” of IRS policy allows consideration of the prior “20 Factors,” or any others. While worker classification is likely to resolve similarly under DOL and IRS rules, the employer of course must consider both, lest it fall short in one regulatory arena or the other.

We all know that employee misclassification can result in severe financial consequences. Businesses and employers should remain diligent in analyzing their workers’ classifications and consult an experienced attorney with any questions. The attorneys at Fraser Trebilcock Davis & Dunlap, PC will continue to monitor these developments and stand ready to guide clients in their compliance with any new regulation.


Attorney David J. HoustonFraser Trebilcock Shareholder Dave Houston has over 40 years of experience representing employers in planning, counseling, and litigating virtually all employment claims and disputes including labor relations (NLRB and MERC), wage and overtime, and employment discrimination, and negotiation of union contracts. He has authored numerous publications regarding employment issues. You can reach him at 517.377.0855 or dhouston@fraserlawfirm.com.


Attorney Robert D. Burgee

Robert D. Burgee is an attorney at Fraser Trebilcock with over a decade of experience counseling clients with a focus on corporate structures and compliance, licensing, contracts, regulatory compliance, mergers and acquisitions, and a host of other matters related to the operation of small and medium-sized businesses and non-profits. You can reach him at 517.377.0848 or at bburgee@fraserlawfirm.com.

Department of Labor Retains Independent Contractor Test

In January 2021, during the last days of the Trump administration, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a “final rule,” to become effective in March of this year, changing the decades-longstanding independent contractor test under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Under the proposed standard a “two core factor” test was to be applied, which would have narrowed the considerations for exclusion of workers from FLSA coverage as “independent contractors.”

However, on March 12, 2021, the DOL under President Biden announced proposed rulemaking, in effect blocking implementation of the Trump rule. On May 5, 2021, the Department announced a final rule withdrawing the proposed new rule, which the DOL characterized as overly employer-friendly, inconsistent with the purpose of the FLSA, and disruptive to the settled law. Of note, the principal deputy administrator for the DOL Wage and Hour Division stated:  “When it comes to digital workers … we want to make sure that we continue to look at their needs, how they are interacting with their individual employers and whether or not they have the protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act.”.

Independent Contractor Test Under the FLSA

The net effect of these maneuverings is that the prior “economic reality” test remains in place without change. This means that the previous guidance from the DOL using a six-factor balancing test, based on Supreme Court precedent, will still be used to determine a worker’s classification. The six factors are:

  1. The nature and degree of the employer’s control;
  2. The permanency of the worker’s relationship with the employer;
  3. Whether the worker, or the employer, provides the means and instrumentalities of the work, such as investment in facilities, equipment, or assistants;
  4. The amount of skill, initiative, judgment, or foresight required for the worker’s services;
  5. Whether the worker is at risk or benefit of profit or loss; and
  6. The degree of integration of the worker’s services into the employer’s business.

IRS Test Remains Unchanged, Also

The IRS test, by comparison, was not changed during the Trump administration. The IRS you will recall uses the “20-factor” test. The test is comprised of three general categories; behavioral control, financial control and relationship of the parties.

The IRS factors are:

  1. Degree of direction of work by employer.
  2. Amount of training required to qualify.
  3. Degree of integration worker’s duties into business.
  4. Must work be done by worker or can worker contract performance to others?
  5. Control of assistants.
  6. Continuance/permanence of relationship.
  7. Control over schedule.
  8. Demand for full-time work.
  9. On-site requirements.
  10. Order and scheduling of work – dictated by worker or employer?
  11. Reporting requirements.
  12. Method of payment.
  13. Compensation for business or travel expenses.
  14. Use of tools, instrumentalities, and materials provided by employer.
  15. Level of investment in employer operations.
  16. Share in gain or loss.
  17. Ability to work elsewhere.
  18. Availability to work for general public.
  19. Control over discharge.
  20. Right to terminate

If you have questions about these changes, please contact Dave Houston or your Fraser Trebilcock attorney.


This alert serves as a general summary, and does not constitute legal guidance. All statements made in this article should be verified by counsel retained specifically for that purpose. Please contact us with any specific questions.


Fraser Trebilcock Shareholder Dave Houston has over 40 years of experience representing employers in planning, counseling, and litigating virtually all employment claims and disputes including labor relations (NLRB and MERC), wage and overtime, and employment discrimination, and negotiation of union contracts. He has authored numerous publications regarding employment issues. You can reach him at 517.377.0855 or dhouston@fraserlawfirm.com.