The Grawe Gazette – General Counsel
That Did Not Last Long – U.S. DOL Wage & Hour Rescinds Trucking Owner Operator Opinion Letter
By Doug Grawe, The Grawe Group, LLC, January 2021
One week ago we were excited to be talking about progress on independent contractor status in trucking. Earlier this month the U.S. DOL finalized a new independent contractor rule that is slated to go into effect in March. Then last week the U.S. DOL issued a good opinion letter about owner operators that clarified trucking companies should be able to implement safety oversight, safety coaching, and safety technology without jeopardizing owner operators’ independent contractor status.
The good vibes did not last long.
Today the U.S. DOL rescinded last week’s opinion letter. Last week’s opinion letter is now of no effect. We can only wait and see what the agency does with the rulemaking set for March.
I am disappointed the agency is not acknowledging the difficult balance trucking companies face between independent contractor status and robust safety programs. Last week’s letter was a very welcome recognition from the agency that trucking companies should be able to put together robust safety programs without sacrificing independent contractor status. That recognition has gone away for now, and trucking’s difficult balancing act continues.