Retailers often hire labor hired by outside vendors, such as employees who stock shelves, take inventory, or provide cleaning, security or deliver services.  Retailers should consequently be keenly aware of various joint employment doctrines that are frequently used to hold companies liable for violations of the law alleged by individuals who companies do not consider their employees.  There are variations of the joint employment doctrine, and their application depends on the type of employment case brought by the individual.

For wage-and-hour cases brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), courts will apply the “economic realities” test to determine whether an employer-employee relationship exists between a company and a plaintiff.  This test primarily assesses whether an employee’s actual working relationship with an alleged employer forms the basis for the employee’s economic livelihood.  If parties are held to be joint employers under the FLSA, then both entities are held liable for the