Classifying workers as ‘independent contractors' may keep labor costs down. However, this practice may be unlawful and harms the true employee. True independent contractors (ICs) are not employees and do not have the same rights and protections that employees enjoy. ICs are not paid minimum wage, overtime, missed breaks, and other benefits such as health insurance, pension, and workers' compensation protection.
Companies who misclassify workers pass on the expenses of doing business to its ICs by deducting these expenses from the workers' pay. These expenses may include fuel, insurance, living, and other travel expenses; purchasing supplies, tools, materials, or equipment such as cell phones related to work. For employees, these expenses are reimbursable.
Thus, misclassified employees lose money. If the misclassification occurred for several years, the back wages and reimbursements owed to the workers may be significant.
We are happy to announce that in a few weeks, members of the class of port truck drivers that our firm represented will be re-classified from being ICs to employees. The current drivers will be provided with the protections accorded an employee in California. These protections may include payment for every hour worked, right to a meal and rest period during a shift, right not to be deducted for business expenses, and workers compensation protection if they get hurt on their jobs.
This result was achieved after a long and drawn-out litigation that has been going on for three years.
Evaluating whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor involves an analysis and application of technical requirements. “Independent contractors” or “1099 workers” should not hesitate to consult with experienced employment attorneys to determine if they are really employees entitled to greater protections under the law.
(C. Joe Sayas, Jr., Esq. is trial attorney who has obtained several million dollar recoveries for his clients against insurance companies and employers. He has been selected as a Super Lawyer by the Los Angeles Magazine, featured in the cover of Los Angeles Daily Journal's Verdicts and Settlements, and is a member of the Million Dollar-Advocates Forum. He is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center Washington, D.C. and the University of the Philippines. Visit his website atwww.joesayaslaw.com or contact his office at (818) 291-0088 for a no-cost inquiry.)