Beacon Center files lawsuit challenging new federal gig worker rule

Published 4:07 pm Wednesday, February 21, 2024

By Jon Styf

The Center Square

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.

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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 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 freelance rights.”

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.

 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 working 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 needs to be more specific, and the department did not stipulate how to weigh the latest factors.