Independent contractor classification and unpaid wages

Companies in Los Angeles have to rely from to time on others to perform tasks like cleaning the restrooms or fixing a leaky faucet. Likewise, businesses may bring in consultants or other specialists to handle a particular specialized task, like installing better information technology.

Businesses will ultimately treat these people as independent contractors instead of employees, meaning that the business does not have to worry about legal matters like minimum wage, overtime and the like. The business can pay by the job in whatever amount the independent contractor is willing to accept.

Unfortunately, some businesses take advantage of the independent contractor label and attempt to treat their own workers, who really should be employees entitled to the full protection of California's wage and overtime laws, as if they were independent contractors.

The employer may make every effort to disguise their true intention, which is to skirt the law and thereby save money. For instance, they may quit withholding wages for tax purposes and provide employees with a Form 1099 instead.

Recently, California courts determined that, in this state, the default presumption is that if a person does work for a company, then he or she is an employee. The business will have to demonstrate, step-by-step, that the person is in fact an independent contractor.

One item the courts will look for in future cases is whether the alleged independent contractor is actually performing a service outside the scope of the business's ordinary activities. By way of example, this would make it difficult to dub an administrative assistant in an office environment to be an "independent contractor" since he or she is doing work that the business would ordinarily have to accomplish.

Those who feel that a business has taken advantage of them by using an independent contractor label may wish to speak with an experienced legal professional who can help them evaluate whether they have a claim for unpaid wages.

 

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