Workers in every industry have protection under both federal and state employment laws. The right to overtime pay when someone works more than a certain number of hours in a week, so many days in a row without a break or exceptionally long shifts is an important employment right.
Unfortunately, employers are often eager to deny workers their overtime rights because of how expensive paying someone 150% of their typical wages can become. Some companies use internal policies to justify denying overtime pay. Other businesses will lie to their workers and pay them very low salaries in the hopes that they won’t learn about their rights.
It has become increasingly common for companies to intentionally misclassify workers partially because they want to avoid paying them overtime wages.
How misclassification benefits a company
Employees have numerous legal protections so that the companies that benefit from their labor cannot take advantage of them. When someone is self-employed or an independent contractor, the government assumes that they set their own schedule and therefore are not going to take advantage of themselves.
If your employer treats you like an employee but calls you an independent contractor, one of the main goals of doing that could be to avoid paying you the overtime wages that they should while expecting you to work a demanding schedule. You also won’t have unemployment protection if they lay off numerous workers all at once, nor will you have workers’ compensation insurance if you get hurt at work.
Fighting back against misclassification is complex
You will have to prove two crucial facts in an overtime wage claim involving misclassification. First, you only need to show that your employer called you an independent contractor but treated you like an employee. Emails from management and details about your work arrangements can help support those claims.
You will also need to show that you qualify for overtime pay based on when you worked. You will need to have records showing how many hours you put in and what overtime wages the company still owes you. It’s worth noting that if the company did this to you, they may very well have done the same thing to numerous other people. If all of you cooperate, you may be in a more powerful position to demand that they reclassify you as employees and pay you the wages they owe you.
Understanding that you may have the legal right to bring a wage claim can help a misclassified worker connect with the overtime pay that they deserve.