Employee Misclassification as Independent Contractors

Tractor Trailer DriverThe Department of Labor’s recently-launched Misclassification Initiative – initiated though Vice President Joe Biden’s Middle Class Task Force – is showing signs of early success in cracking down on businesses that misclassify workers to cheat them of workers’ compensation benefits and other benefits to which they are entitled. The misclassification of employees as “independent contractors,” for example, harms both workers and the economy as a whole, denying individuals access to important benefits and protections like family and medical leave, overtime, minimum wage and unemployment insurance. Employee misclassification also has a negative impact on L&I’s workers compensation funds.

The Misclassification Initiative is restoring rights to those who have been cheated through their employer’s improper practices. In September of 2011, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis signed the Memorandum of Understanding between the Labor Department and the IRS. This arrangement enables agencies to work more closely and share information that will reduce the overall incidence of employee misclassification.

The Wage & Hour Division and the State of Washington Department of Labor & Industries joined forced with the shared goal to provide clear, reliable, and accessible outreach to employers, workers, and other Washington residents. To this end, L&I and the Labor Department will share resources and increase enforcement of worker classification laws by conducting joint investigations and providing ease-of-access to information pertinent to the enforcement of such laws.

Click here for a recent CBS story on Misclassification of Independent Contractors.

If you feel you are a misclassified worker, and have been denied benefits as a result, contact an L&I Attorney to represent your rights.

Emery Reddy