Elise Stefanik
Representative Elise Stefanik of New York

WASHINGTON -- A bill introduced in the House aimed at harmonizing the definitions of employee with the common law has received plaudits from the American Bakers Association.

The bill, H.R. 3825, proposes to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Introduced by Representatives Diane Black of Tennessee and Elise Stefanik of New York, The Harmonization of Coverage Act of 2017 on Sept. 25 was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Details of the legislation have not yet been released.

“A.B.A. thanks the leadership of Representatives Black and Stefanik toward achieving a common-sense, consistent definition of employee across federal statute,” said Robb MacKie, president and chief executive officer of the A.B.A.

Diane Black
Representative Diane Black of Tennessee

The baking industry is a large user of independent contractors for their direct store delivery systems. Many baking companies sell delivery routes to independent distributors, who deliver and stock baked foods to retail outlets.

“Independent contractors are essential to many bakery distribution networks,” said Michael J. Goscinski, director of government relations for the A.B.A. “This legislation provides clarity for our members to continue growing relationships with hard-working entrepreneurs to produce and deliver freshly baked, wholesome products.”

Disputes over the definition of employee versus independent contractor have spawned numerous lawsuits in recent years.