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What Do I Do If I Was Misclassified as an Independent Contractor?

Posted on May 14, 2019 | Firm News

It is every employer’s legal duty to properly classify its workers as either employees or independent contractors according to certain criteria. The correct classification is important because it can determine your pay scale, taxes, benefits, rights, and responsibilities as a worker. If you believe your boss has misclassified you as an independent contractor when you are actually an employee, learn how to remedy the situation in California.

Independent Contractor vs. Employee

Many distinct differences exist between an independent contractor and an employee. The main one is that an independent contractor is his or her own boss, while an employee works for the employer. Contractors and employees may perform similar work, but their relationships with their employers are very different. When someone is an employee, the company will withhold taxes from wages paid. However, a company will not withhold any taxes paid to independent contractors. Furthermore, California’s employment and labor laws do not apply to independent contractors.

Employers classify independent contractors vs. employees by analyzing how much control the company has over the work relationship between the two parties. The worker might be an employee, and not a contractor, if the company has the right to control what the worker does, if it controls aspects of the worker’s job (such as providing equipment), if the employer has a written contract with the worker for employee benefits, or if work is a key part of business. In addition to these federal guidelines, each state has different tests to determine a worker’s status. California’s Employment Determination Guide helps employees and employers understand the distinction.

Why Might an Employer Misclassify Workers?

Misclassification of employees as independent contractors is often an employer’s attempt to avoid paying taxes, complying with wage and hour laws, and providing benefits. It is much easier (and cheaper) for an employer to use contractors compared to employees. Employers do not have to reimburse independent contractors for business expenses, offer paid meal breaks, or provide overtime pay. Employers are also not liable for injuries sustained on the job to independent contractors. But if you believe you have been misclassified, contact a misclassification lawyer today to make sure your employer is treating you fairly.

What to Do After Misclassification

If the company you work for has been misclassifying you as an independent contractor when the circumstances of your professional relationship are more like typical employment, you have rights. The company might have taken advantage of you for the duration of your relationship. The company could owe you money for your missing wages, reimbursements, overtime, and benefits. The economic losses you might have suffered because of the misclassification will depend on your unique job duties and work arrangement.

It is important to contact a local employment law attorney as soon as you suspect misclassification. This is a serious and complex issue that may require a trial to resolve. The law may entitle you to file a claim against the company that misclassified you in pursuit of financial damages. A lawyer can help you work through the paperwork and filing requirements of your case. You may have to navigate claims with the Department of Labor, state labor agencies, and other organizations to achieve justice and full compensation. Your lawyer can advise you on the best route for your claim.

Once you contact an attorney, you can pursue the compensation owed you through all available legal outlets. Wage claims may be enough to result in the wages the company owed you for the misclassification. In some cases, however, claimants may have to go to court. Filing a lawsuit against your employer might be the best option if you have multiple claims against the company. If you pointed out the misclassification and the employer fired you, for example, a lawsuit encompassing the misclassification and wrongful termination could be in your best interests. Work with a lawyer to fully understand the details of your case.