Paul DeCamp Quoted in “Update or More Enforcement? Fair Labor Act Debated 80 Years In”

Bloomberg BNA Daily Labor Report

Paul DeCamp, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Washington, DC office, was quoted in the Bloomberg BNA Daily Labor Report, in “Update or More Enforcement? Fair Labor Act Debated 80 Years In,” by Jon Steingart.

Following is an excerpt:

Does the rise of today’s gig economy call into question whether an 80-year-old federal wage law is still relevant? Some updates may be warranted, but making significant changes to the Depression-era Fair Labor Standards Act won’t be easy, worker advocates and management-side attorneys told Bloomberg Law. …

The U.S. was reeling from the Great Depression in 1938 when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act, a piece of New Deal legislation that established work requirements such as a minimum wage, pay for overtime, and a ban on child labor. …

Lawsuits against gig economy companies such as Lyft and Postmates have ended in settlement or were dismissed when courts concluded workers weren’t entitled to minimum wage, overtime, or expense reimbursement because they’re independent contractors. …

Making broad changes to the FLSA is difficult because nobody wants to see their rights diminished, said Paul DeCamp, who served as administrator of the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division during the George W. Bush administration. The agency administers and enforces the FLSA.

“There have been some instances where there are some changes to the FLSA” that have happened in the eight decades the law has been on the books, Decamp told Bloomberg Law March 27. “What we have not seen is large scale top-to-bottom revision of the statute,” Decamp said. “I think it’s warranted but it’s also very unlikely that as a society we can have a go-back-to-first principles discussion,” he said.

It becomes a “line in the sand” if the discussion is perceived as taking away rights, such as workers’ access to overtime, or increasing an obligation, such as employers’ record-keeping requirement or more pay for similar work, DeCamp said. “Then it becomes a reversion to that notion that it’s a zero sum game,” he said.

DeCamp is now in private practice, representing employers and trade associations as co-chair of Epstein Becker & Green P.C.’s national wage and hour practice group and a member of the firm’s Washington office. He’s also contributed to a Bloomberg Law treatise on the FLSA.