The gig economy relies on independent contractors and those who are working in situations that by traditional standards are intermittent and less formal. While there are work and life benefits for many who are not typical employees, independent contractors also lack traditional workplace protections. A recently introduced piece of legislation aims to change that and offer critical worker protections to this growing segment of the American economy.
The employer-employee relationship is covered by federal and state employment laws. Those who are classified as independent contractors by federal guidelines are entitled to far fewer workplace protections governing safety, health, and wages than those provided under the law to employees. Employers can also misclassify workers to avoid complying with relevant employment laws. It is important that independent contractors be aware of their rights and the restrictions that come with their status.
Independent Contractors versus Employees
The proposed legislation was introduced in the United States Congress and would require that individuals who perform work for employers as independent contractors be treated as employees. It would compel minimum wage and overtime standards for independent contractors and extend employment discrimination protections under federal civil rights law. The bill currently has no Congressional co-sponsors and does not have a significant chance of becoming law in the current Congress. However, it is notable in that it does recognize that the evolving workplace in the gig economy is not covered under existing employment laws.
The bill’s sponsor introduced it following widely reported workplace protection issues involving drivers for the popular ridesharing company, Uber. In a 2019 case, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that Uber drivers should be classified as independent contractors rather than employees despite rulings and laws in several states that extended workplace protections to ridesharing drivers.
Statisticians disagree on exact numbers of U.S. independent contractors, but it is likely between 10 million and 15 million workers as of 2018. The growing gig economy means that even by conservative estimates, there are millions of workers who lack protection of health and safety laws, wage and tax laws, and anti-discrimination laws. This includes workers in transportation, janitorial work, health, and a variety of other occupations, including some federal government workers. Employers can sometimes misclassify workers as independent contractors to avoid paying employment taxes and other benefits.
Cherry Hill Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Fight for the Rights of Workers
If you are an independent contractor and believe you were unjustly classified or experienced discrimination, it is essential to consult with an experienced Cherry Hill employment discrimination lawyer at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. who can assess your case and advise you of your legal rights. We will advocate on your behalf to ensure your rights are protected. Located in Pennsauken, New Jersey, we represent clients throughout South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Haddonfield, Marlton, Moorestown, and Mount Laurel. Please complete our online form or call us at 215-569-1999 for a free consultation today.