Misclassification of Workers in California as Independent Contractors

Posted 8 months ago. Applies to California, 0 helpful votes

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Many company owners try to evade the employment law of California by erroneously labeling their workers as independent contractors. Company owners engage in this practice because the legal rights enjoyed by company employees in California do not cover independent contractors.

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Classifying Workers

Many company owners try to evade the employment law of California by erroneously labeling their workers as independent contractors. Company owners engage in this practice because the legal rights enjoyed by company employees in California do not cover independent contractors. Certain employee benefits such as being paid overtime, receiving meal breaks, and protection against discriminations do not apply to independent contractors in California. This gives the employers the power to relieve them of their jobs even in the absence of a legal ground for doing so. Misclassifying these employees also helps employers save some money. This misclassification of workers save employers from paying wages that cover issues like workers compensation, workers insurance covers, employment taxes. A new law which took effect from January, 2013 has been put in place to checkmate the activities of employers who deliberately misclassify their workers as independent contractors in California. This new law, SB 459 adds severe penalties for this kind of injustice meted out to workers by their employers and has made misclassification of workers in California a risky business. SB 459 has made provisions for every misclassified worker in California to be entitled to $25,000 compensation by their employers.

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Violations Still Continue

In spite of this law, most employers in California will still continue to deliberately misclassify their workers. Employees who are most affected are those whose job responsibilities require them to work for very long hours doing different tasks within the company where they work like designs, IT, accounting, etc. Fortunately for these mislabeled workers, the fact that you sign a document which says you are an independent contractor does not make you an independent contractor. According to the law in California, the onus falls on your employer to prove beyond doubt that you work as an independent contractor in his company in California. The courts in California use different factors to figure out if you are an independent contractor or not, but the most significant of such factors is to find out if you are given the legal rights to choose your own working conditions in that company. The courts will put both the big picture of your job and your day-to-day job responsibilities into consideration. The fact that you carry out certain tasks without being supervised does not qualify you as an independent contractor because most tasks do not require supervisions. Handling tasks like picking cucumbers does not require any supervision, even if you use your own tools to carry out the tasks, the fact that your employer sets your daily work schedule, decides the number of cucumbers you pick each day, or gives you no benefits when you pick more cucumbers than you were asked to pick, show that you are not an independent contractor.If your employer classifies you as an independent contractor in California, you have the right to hire an attorney who has experience in wage and hour law to help determine if your classification as an independent contractor is right. If your attorney proves otherwise, it means your employer owes you meal breaks, minimum wages, overtime, and all other employer benefits provided by the California Labor Code.

Additional Resources

Glossary of Wage and Hour Terms

Overtime Law FAQ

Link to Overtime Law sections of CA Labor Code

Which Wage Order?

Index of Businesses and Occupations for Wage Order Classifications

Waiting Time Penalties FAQ

Deductions from Wages FAQ

Minimum Wage FAQ

Pay Periods and Final Wages FAQ

Reporting Time Pay FAQ

Tips and Gratuities FAQ

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