Due to financial insecurity caused by the pandemic, many Americans have scrambled to stay afloat and have turned to ‘gigs’ rather than jobs to meet their needs. These can include flexible, commitment-free opportunities to earn quick cash like driving for a ride-sharing service, walking neighborhood dogs, or delivering takeout through an online ordering service.
Although these situations may seem attractive to the individual, it is often the company that comes out on top. In fact, many times employers will purposely misclassify workers as independent contractors to avoid paying benefits and overtime.
Typically, an employee can expect to receive benefits like unemployment if laid off, their employer to withhold taxes on their behalf, and some shielding from liability incurred while on the job. Where a worker is an independent contractor, the company can deny all of these things, and more. This can leave the individual in a tight spot when things go wrong.
The law requires employers to provide workers with overtime, minimum wage and other benefits when they control the worker to the point that the workers should be consider an employee rather than an independent contractor. Courts often won’t honor the terminology used by the employer in an employment contract if the facts don’t fit. If you are required to wear a uniform, work specific hours, work in a specific location, use equipment or tools provided by your employer, or complete work that is typically done by employees of the company it can signal to a court that you are actually an employee, and you may be owed back overtime pay or other benefits.
If you have questions about whether you have been misclassified, contact us for a free, 30-minute consultation with an employment lawyer.