New York City wage-hour attorneys know all too well that employers go to great lengths to avoid paying workers in compliance with the law. At Leeds Brown, we represent hard working New Yorkers against employers who fail to live up to their obligations. We help workers recover damages for overtime pay violations, minimum wage violations, tip theft and more.
One of the more common cases we see involves the misclassification of workers. Are you an independent contractor or an employee? How do you know and why does it matter?
Whether you are an employee or an independent contractor matters. It matters because employees, unlike independent contractors, receive more legal protections and entitlements than independent contractors. To avoid being bound by certain laws and paying certain monies, many employers classify workers as independent contractors instead of employees. If you are a misclassified worker, your employer may owe you overtime wages and other benefits.
Classification is not a “choice.” The law specifies classifications based on responsibility, job functions, the level of control exercised by the company and more.
There have been several highly publicized cases in recent years that have challenged traditional notions of independent contractors and employees. In cases against Uber and Fedex, workers continue to bring to light the nationwide problem of employee misclassification. Misclassification is determined on a case by case basis – there is no “one size fits” all rule that applies to defining an independent contractor or employee. As workers continue to file court cases against employers, the rules regarding classifications will likely continue to evolve.
The workplace is governed by multiple pieces of complex laws and deciphering all of the rules and regulations is difficult for many. New York City wage-hour attorneys at Leeds Brown have the knowledge and experience to recognize whether you have been the victim of a wage-hour violation, and your employer owes you money. We can help navigate your claim and help you recover the money to which you are entitled.
An independent contractor and an employee are not the same. An independent contractor is self-employed. A worker who performs services for the general public is often an independent contractor. An independent contractor tends to have multiple clients or customers and retain control over the outcome of his or her work. According to the Small Business Association, some indications that someone is an independent contractor are:
An employee, however:
Whether you are an NYC independent contractor or NYC employee matters to different people for different reasons. Being classified as an independent contractor is a choice for many workers. You may own your own freelance business as a plumber or writer and love the freedom, flexibility and control you have over your work hours and job selections.
Some employers, however, hire workers and call them independent contractors when in reality, the workers have no control over their work. For example, a construction company may hire a laborer as an independent contractor. The worker does not have a business name, a business checking account or personal tools and equipment. He reports to work each day and gets paid for his time.
Isn’t the worker in the above example an employee? Why might an employer misclassify him as a New York City independent contractor?
The reasons are simple. By classifying workers as independent contractors, employers can circumvent many laws and financial obligations.
The Fair Labor Standards Act does not protect independent contractors– employers are not required to pay independent contractors overtime wages, minimum wages or adhere to applicable rules about work hours
Employers are not required to provide health insurance or pay social security taxes or unemployment taxes for independent contractors
Independent contractors do not receive disability benefits, unemployment benefits or worker’s compensation benefits
The National Labor Relations Act does not protect independent contractors and employers, therefore, do not have to deal with unions.
By classifying workers as independent contractors, employers are not bound by antidiscrimination laws that protect employees.
Employers trying to save money and cut costs may legally hire New York City independent contractors. It is an effective way to trim some expenses associated with operating a business. However, sometimes, purposefully or not, the workers hired are employees and are misclassified as independent contractors. When this happens, the workers are entitled to overtime, minimum wages, benefits, and various legal protections.
Just because someone is called an employee or independent contractor does not automatically make it so. But, there is no single test to determine whether or not someone is an independent contractor. When a worker challenges his or her classification, courts must look at each situation on a case by case basis. According to the SBA, some considerations include:
If you are a misclassified worker in New York City, your employer may owe you money. You may be entitled to collect unpaid overtime wages, minimum wages and more. It is important to have wage-hour attorneys who are intimately familiar with the wage-hour laws and history of classification cases to help you determine what your rights are to recover compensation. Contact the New York City wage-hour attorneys at Leeds Brown to get started.
No matter what your business or industry, our lawyers have the expertise to help. Call our office at 1-800-585-4658 and speak to someone about your status as an independent contractor. Find out if you are entitled to recover compensation.
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