For years, one of the most common and complex problems in employment litigation involves the classification of a worker as either an employee or an independent contractor. This important distinction has been left unclear for years, making it difficult to determine whether an employer’s designation of a worker as an independent contractor is legal.
However, a recent California case has brought some clearer standards for this legal determination. Clearer standards will minimize unnecessary litigation and protect employees from exploitation.
A Recent Case
According to Forbes online, the California Supreme Court just last week handed down its decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles. In this case, the court did two things that are important going forward: It added a standard for distinguishing between employees and independent contractors. An independent contractor must:
- Be free from the control of the hirer in the performance of the job,
- Perform work that is outside the course of the employer’s normal course of business, AND
- Be customarily engaged in independently established work that is similar to the employer’s business.
Further, the court placed the burden of proof on employers in these cases. This means that when a classification in question comes before the court, it is up to the employer to prove that all three of the above standards exist. If the employer cannot prove that every one of the above standards are in place, it is assumed that the worker is indeed an employer and not an independent contractor.
The Benefit for Employees
Most employees would prefer being considered an employee rather than an independent contractor, because the employee classification triggers the legal employment law standards regarding wage and hour laws, overtime hours, insurance, leave and other important protections for employees.
Establishing this new standard and placing the burden of proof on the hiring company, the court has created a notably employee-friendly situation.
You Have Rights – Now is the Time to Protect Them
If you are a worker who thinks you might have been inappropriately classified as an independent contractor, there is no better time than right now to exercise your rights. Talk with a lawyer to discuss how you can get the correct classification as an employee and obtain compensation for your losses.