Salinas v. Commercial Interiors, Inc., No. 15-1915 (4th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq.; the Maryland Wage and Hour Law, Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. 3-401 et seq.; and the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law, Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. 3-501 et seq. The district court granted summary judgment to Commercial because Commercial did not jointly employ plaintiffs where J.I. and Commercial entered into a traditionally recognized legitimate contractor-subcontractor relationship and did not intend to avoid compliance with the FLSA or Maryland law. The court concluded, however, that the legitimacy of a business relationship between putative joint employers and the putative joint employers’ good faith are not dispositive of whether entities constitute joint employers for purposes of the FLSA. The court held that joint employment exists when (1) two or more persons or entities share, agree to allocate responsibility for, or otherwise codetermine—formally or informally, directly or indirectly—the essential terms and conditions of a worker’s employment and (2) the two entities’ combined influence over the essential terms and conditions of the worker’s employment render the worker an employee as opposed to an independent contractor. Applying this test to this case, the court concluded that Commercial jointly employed plaintiffs for purposes of the FLSA and the analogous Maryland law. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment.