In a suit pending in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, (S.D.N.Y. 98 Civ. 7589), the U.S. Department of Labor sued Time Warner in October for allegedly misclassifying some of its employees as independent contractors or temporary workers in determining welfare benefits. That kind of suit is not new; employers have been sued by the government and employees for many years in courts all around the country for that very thing.

The suit is notable because the Labor Department, by its own admission, has entered this arena for the first time. What were already troubled waters have become doubly so. Even with the Internal Revenue Service as the only federal regulator, the rules governing worker classification have stubbornly resisted consistency. The Labor Department’s input can only make matters worse.

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