California’s dynamic, fast-paced, and competitive labor market is unfortunately no stranger to the trend of businesses classifying their workers as independent contractors rather than employees. While gig workers, like app-based drivers, are the most ubiquitous modern example of this, the trend towards using contract labor is being embraced by all sorts of industries.
While this arrangement can sometimes be a win-win, offering flexibility for both parties, other employees are sometimes deliberately misclassified. This is usually done in an effort to avoid paying these workers the benefits that would otherwise be mandated by state law, federal statutes, collective bargaining contracts, or corporate policies regarding direct employees. Working as an independent contractor can unfortunately deprive workers of important protections and benefits.
If you suspect that you are being misclassified as an independent contractor at your California job, you’re unfortunately not alone. Thankfully, you have recourse, and the employment law team at The Law Office of Frank S. Clowney III can help you seek it.
In California, a method known as the “ABC test” is used to determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. Here are each of the three criteria and how they’re assessed:
The ABC test is a powerful rubric that can be used to help identify the misclassification of workers. It is important to recognize, however, that labor laws can be incredibly complex and are subject to the circumstances of each individual case. For help determining whether you are being misclassified at your job, contact The Law Office of Frank S. Clowney III to set up a consultation.
If you have considered the ABC test, or consulted with a California employment attorney, and believe that you are being misclassified, you may be able to seek legal recourse. You may even be entitled to a settlement or judgment to compensate you for any benefits that were illegally withheld from you. Here is an outline of how to hold your employer accountable for illegal misclassification and set yourself on the path to justice:
A: If your employer is found to have misclassified your work, they may be legally obligated to pay you for any overtime and other state-mandated benefits. The exact punishment for misclassifying employees will depend on which state agencies get involved in your case and the extent of your employer’s violations and any other misconduct toward you.
A: The exact punishment for misclassifying employees can depend on which state agencies get involved and the extent of the violations in question. At the least, employers will be compelled by law to provide misclassified employees any back pay that would be equivalent to the benefits that have been illegally withheld.
A: Yes, but you may wish to consult with a reputable employment lawyer before proceeding. In some instances, filing one or more reports or claims with the state Labor Commissioner’s office, the California Department of Industrial Relations, and/or the Employment Development Department may be required before proceeding with a formal legal claim.
A: An employee who has been misclassified as an independent contractor by a California business has 3 years from the time of the last offense, i.e., their most recent date of work for that employer, to file a claim. If the case includes a written employment contract being breached, the statute of limitations can be extended to 4 years. Note that this is for filing a civil suit against your employer. Individual state agencies may have their own specific rules and deadlines.
If you believe that your employer is misclassifying you as an independent contractor to avoid paying you state-mandated benefits, protect your rights with powerful legal representation from the employment law team at The Law Office of Frank S. Clowney III. Contact us today to set up a consultation.