As an employee, it's important to understand your rights and protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). One potential issue that can arise is misclassification, which occurs when an employer classifies a worker as an independent contractor instead of an employee. There is another type of misclassification that involves treating you as exempt from overtime, but that is a different topic and a different issue. This blog post focuses on misclassifying employees as independent contractors overall. Misclassification of this nature can have serious consequences, including the denial of benefits such as overtime pay and unemployment insurance. If you think you may have been misclassified, here are some red flags to watch for:
Lack of control: Independent Contractors generally have more control over their job duties, the manner they perform the work, and work schedule than independent contractors. If your "employer" has a high level of control over how you do your job, this may be a sign that you are an employee rather than an independent contractor.
Lack of autonomy: Independent contractors typically have more autonomy in their work, such as the ability to work for multiple clients or to set their own schedule. If you are not able to work for other clients or do not have control over your schedule, this may indicate that you have been misclassified as an independent contractor and instead have the rights an employee has.
Lack of business expenses: Independent contractors are generally responsible for their own business expenses, such as supplies and equipment. If your employer is covering these expenses, it may be a sign that you are an employee rather than an independent contractor. Sometimes this is not the cases, particularly in our technological environment.
Lack of a written contract: While not necessarily required, having a written contract in place can help clarify the terms of the relationship between an employer and an independent contractor. If you do not have a written contract, or if the contract does not clearly outline the terms of your relationship with the employer, this could be a red flag that you have been misclassified.
If you are unsure about your worker classification, it's a good idea to seek guidance from an attorney who practices in the field of employment law. If you believe that you have been misclassified, it's important to take action. You may be entitled to certain benefits and protections as an employee that you are not receiving as an independent contractor. Don't be afraid to speak up and advocate for your rights.