In light of our last blog regarding the high-profile worker misclassification case filed against Uber, now is a good time to answer some commonly asked questions about this issue so that people understand when they may have been misclassified as an independent contractor – and so that they know when to consult a lawyer and fight back to get the back wages and compensation to which they are entitled.
Important Answers about Worker Misclassification
Q: What is an independent contractor and how can I determine if I’m an independent contractor or an employee?
A: There is not currently a standard definition for an “independent contractor,” so these determinations are typically made on a case-by-case basis. That being stated, however, workers should understand that the Division of Labor Enforcement Standards (DLES) typically assumes that workers are employees and then assesses the situation more closely to determine if certain mitigating factors apply.
In particular, factors that could indicate that a worker is an independent contractor (rather than an employee) include (but are not limited to) the fact(s) that the worker:
- Performs work that is distinct from the employer
- Supplies his or her own tools and/or work location
- Has freedom to work without supervision
- Has a temporary relationship with the employer.
Q: If I’m 1099ed, does that automatically make me an independent contractor?
A: No, the method by which a worker is paid is not a determining factor as to whether that person is legitimately an independent contractor. Additionally, as the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) explains:
Your employer cannot change your status from that of an employee to one of an independent contractor by illegally requiring you to assume a burden that the law imposes directly on the employer, that being, withholding payroll taxes and reporting such withholdings to the taxing authorities.
Q: Why should I care if I’m classified as an independent contractor, rather than an employee?
A: You should care because California laws offer a number of protections to employees that are not provided to independent contractors. In fact, while wage and hour laws offer employees protections regarding minimum wage, overtime and break times, other California laws protect employees against discrimination and retaliation. Independent contractors don’t get such protections and, instead, only have recourse when it comes to breach of contract.
You should also care because employers who misclassify you as an independent contractor are typically trying to compromise your rights and protections in an effort to save their own profits.
Q: What should I do if I think I’ve been misclassified as an independent contractor?
A: Consult a lawyer ASAP for a thorough case evaluation and professional advice regarding your best options for proceeding. If you have, indeed, been misclassified, you may be entitled to back wages and other damages.
Contact a Los Angeles Employment Attorney at Moon and Yang
If you believe you have been misclassified as an independent contractor – or if an employer has violated any of your rights as a worker, you can turn to an experienced Los Angeles employment attorney at the Moon and Yang for aggressive, effective legal advocacy in your pursuit of justice.
To find out more about our services and how we can help you, contact us today by calling (213) 232-3128 or by emailing us using the contact form on this page.
From our offices based in Los Angeles, our trusted lawyer provide superior service to clients throughout Southern California, including those in Koreatown, Orange, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Buena Park, Garden Grove and throughout Los Angeles and Orange Counties.