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  • Writer's pictureDave DeSario

Who's the Boss?


Temp Worker Justice and other worker advocates filed Amicus Brief urging the NLRB to recognize the increasing fissuring of workplaces and adopt a broader test for determining whether a worker is an independent contractor, thus providing greater protections to workers, particularly workers of color.

Yesterday, February 10, 2022, twelve workers’ rights organizations from across the country filed an Amicus Brief in The Atlanta Opera, Inc v. Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Union, Local 798, IATSE, a case before National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) involving a union campaign by makeup artists and hairstylists for the Atlanta Opera. At its core, the case addresses whether the NLRB should reconsider its standard for determining the independent contractor status of workers.

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects employees from retaliation for engaging in collective action to address workplace concerns. However, this protection does not apply to independent contractors and others that are not considered direct “employees.”

In their brief, Amici argue that the changing economic landscape and increased fissuring of traditional employer-employee relationships require a broader, multi-factor analysis for determining whether a worker is an independent contractor. Worker advocates assert that this broader analysis will be better suited to address the developing nature of misclassification and effectuate the purpose and policies of the NLRA. If the argument is accepted, millions more working people could have the opportunity to join unions and engage in collective bargaining, protected under the NLRA for employees.

Amici specifically lift up the impact of misclassification of temporary staffing workers and workers of color, who make up a disproportionate number of workers in low-wage and fissured workplaces.

As Dave DeSario, Director of Temp Worker Justice, explains: “Temp workers, independent contractors, and gig workers all have to ask, ‘Who’s the boss?’ They’re different names and legal sleights of hand for the same thing: systems that force mostly Black and Brown workers into doing equal work for unequal pay and second-class treatment. That’s why, along with allied organizations from across the country, we’re making the case to the NLRB to protect all workers who are excluded from the benefits and protections of regular employment.

For a copy of the Amicus Brief or other requests, please contact Legal Organizer at National Legal Advocacy Network, Lorraine Sands, at

For more information about the Organizations filing the Amicus Curiae, see below:

Ø Temp Worker Justice:

Ø National Legal Advocacy Network:

Ø National Black Worker Center:

Ø The Action Center for Race and the Economy:

Ø The Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights:

Ø Warehouse Workers for Justice:

Ø Justice at Work:

Ø Towards Justice:

Ø TechEquity Collaborative:

Ø Legal Services Staff Association (LSSA 2320):

Ø Workplace Justice Lab at Rutgers University:

Ø CUNY School of Law, Workers’ Rights Clinic:


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