Workers in a variety of industries, including technology, construction and entertainment are often misclassified as independent contractors rather than employees. There can be great incentive to do so, as well. Independent contractors are not generally eligible for the same rights as regular employees, including minimum wage, overtime and various benefits.
One rule, according to a federal judge in Georgia hearing a case of strippers who were classified as independent contractors, hinges on whether or not the worker is performing a task that is integral to the business. If that person’s duties are vital to the business, then that person is likely an employee and probably isn’t being paid the wages and hours he or she is legally owed. If the worker does not have much control over his or her work - such as setting hours, what to wear, how to conduct him or herself - then he or she is likely also an employee, the judge found, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (1/3/14).
In some industries, according to reports, the problem is widespread. A 2013 report titled “Build a Better Texas” found that many workers in the construction industry were denied legal protection.
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And, the report notes, the issue goes deeper than not being paid proper wages. Many who are misclassified do not have access to proper medical care or protections. Some employees do not find out they have been misclassified until they file a wage claim.
More and more employees are coming forward to allege they have been misclassified as independent contractors and therefore denied proper wages and protections while on the job. If those workers are found to be employees and not independent contractors, they could be compensated for unpaid wages and overtime pay.