Mr. Love is correct. You should contact the NC Department of Labor. You have to exhaust your administrative remedies before you can file a law suit. That is you have to file the claim with the Dept. of Labor and let them try to resolve it. If they are unable to resolve the claim then the Dept. will give you a "right to sue" letter that allows you to file a civil lawsuit. Unfortunately, the Dept. of Labor is very lax in pursuing claims. Thus, do not assume that your problems will be resolved once you notify the Dept. You may still need to hire a lawyer to protect your rights.
It is not uncommon for some companies to try to misclassify 'employees' as 'independent contractors'. The courts will not look at what you are called but will look, among other things, the degree of control the company has over you. From the information you gave, it is likely that you should have been classified as an employee.
I am licensed to practice law only in North Carolina. My answer provides only general information. Do not rely on this answer as specific legal advice for your particular situation. This answer does not form an attorney-client relationship. You should consult with an attorney to fully discuss your situation and to obtain advise about your legal rights and obligations.
Employees are often misclassified as "independent contractors." You have identified the primary thing that the Department of Labor and the Employment Security Division look at when determining if someone is an employee or an independent contractor--control. It sounds like you are an "employee" who has a work schedule and work performance closely monitored and controlled by an "employer." As an employee, you have certain rights under
My experience and understanding is that, unlike for a discrimination claim, you may bring Wage and Hour claims without exhausting your administrative remedies. The Commission itself must exhaust administrative remedies first. You will need to consult a lawyer who focuses on employment law.