Employment Law

Misclassification of Employees As Independent Contractors

Employers sometimes misclassify workers as “independent contractors” rather than “employees.” The effect of this misclassification is to deny the misclassified workers their important rights under both Federal and California State laws.

Why do employers misclassify workers?

Sometimes it’s an honest mistake, but more often employers engage in misclassification to avoid paying for the most basic and important employee safety nets such as worker compensation benefits, taxes, the right to receive at least minimum wage, and the right to be paid for overtime. Employers may also misclassify workers as a way to get around laws protecting the civil rights of employees, including prohibitions against employment discrimination based on age, race, gender, or disability. Misclassification can also allow employers to illegally prevent union organizing and/or collective bargaining. In short, misclassification deprives workers of many important rights that they are entitled to as employees.

What is the difference between an independent contractor and an employee?

Courts will look to a variety of factors in deciding whether misclassification has occurred. While there is no single factor that distinguishes an employee from an independent contractor, a worker will be generally found to have been misclassified as an independent contractor if: (1) the employer controls or has the right to control how the worker does the job; (2) the work performed by the worker is a key aspect of the business; (3) there are written contracts or employee-type benefits (i.e. pension plan, insurance, vacation pay, etc.); and (4) the relationship is continuous and is not merely for a fixed period or project.

If you believe you have been misclassified, call us at Delfino Green & Green and we can help you determine whether your employer has misclassified you as an independent contractor and whether you have been deprived of your important and valuable rights as an employee.