1.) As a self-employed contractor, am I protected by workplace discrimination laws? 2.) Can discrimination be proven by data?

I am a self-employed contractor who is assigned editorial work by a writing service provider. I work with individual customers who are assigned to me by another individual (a female). While going over my numbers for the year, I noticed that out of the 200+ customers I was assigned this year, only 7% of the customers assigned to me were female. (I am a male.) Given this trend, I am concerned that the volume of work assigned to me suffers because I am not being fairly considered for assignments based on gender bias since 93% of the work assigned to me has been for male customers. My questions: 1.) As a self-employed contractor, am I protected by workplace discrimination laws? 2.) Can discrimination be proven by data alone?

New York, NY -

Attorney Answers (3)

Arthur H. Forman

Arthur H. Forman

Employment / Labor Attorney - Flushing, NY
Answered

Unless you are misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee, you cannot sue for discrimination. You may want to consult an attorney or the US Dept of Labor to discuss whether you are misclassified.

Robert M Fortgang

Robert M Fortgang

Employment / Labor Attorney - Simsbury, CT
Answered

I do not practice employment law in New York so it's important that you reach out to local, NY based employment lawyers for a "no charge” “no obligation” consultation. Having said as much, begin with Atty. Forman with whom I agree and would add that a self-employed contractor is not an employee. Stated another way an independent, self-employed contractor = independent business person. Translation: if you are truly an independent business person, filing a charge of discrimination with the NY Commission on Human Rights or the Federal EEOC will, like the filing for U.C. benefits ...go no where. Having said as much, you have touched on a very hot issue in employment law. Many employers (and individuals) try to circumvent their lawful obligations by treating those in their employ as independent contractors thereby avoiding having to pay unemployment tax, social security withholding, worker compensation …to name just a few. On the flip side the individual believes he/she is making out by not having taxes withheld. This all works until the individual suffers a workplace injury ...or is not paid for the work performed ...or as in your fact pattern believes he is being discriminated against. So I repeat, you need to consult with a local area employment lawyer. And finally, those of us who regularly answer questions posted here on AVVO are an excellent place for you to start your search for local counsel. The bottom line here from my perspective is that it's always wise to invest time in an effort to learn your rights so that you may become an "informed" consumer of legal service. Good luck and best regards, Rob Fortgang - Employment Law Attorneys serving Connecticut and Massachusetts / 800-932-6457 / rob@fortgangemploymentlaw.com

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Alix R. Rubin

Alix R. Rubin

Employment / Labor Attorney - Pinebrook, NJ
Answered

If you are truly a self-employed contractor, you are not protected by workplace discrimination laws but you may be protected by laws that prohibit discrimination in contracting. To answer your second question, yes, certain types of discrimination can be proven by data.

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Independent contractor small business

An independent contractor is a person or business that provides goods or services under the terms of a contract or verbal agreement.

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