New Supreme Court Ruling Impacts Companies with Independent Contractors
Companies desire to hire independent contractors rather than employees to save money on overtime pay, payroll taxes, and unemployment and worker’s compensation insurance, just to name a few benefits. But are companies taking advantage by misclassifying workers? Ride sharing and food delivery are a few of the big industries that retain independent contractors, but also within the tech industry, companies can independently contract software programmers, graphic designers, digital marketers and pretty much any kind of service-based freelancer. With technology making our world more interconnected, independent work is only getting easier and therefore the need for an employer to consult with a labor lawyer is more important than ever.
A new court ruling is dramatically changing the rules for how to determine whether a person is an employee or an independent contractor. So if you employ or are thinking about hiring independent contractors, our employment attorney can ensure you’re compliant with the most current labor laws. The Supreme Court ruling on April 30 (Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles, No. S222732) is more clearly defining how workers are classified as employees or independent contractors. In order to be considered an independent contractor, a worker must be ‘free from the control and direction of the hirer in connection with the performance of the work.’ Based on this ruling, workers whose employers are directly connected to their work (such as drivers connected to passengers through ride sharing companies) cannot be classified as independent contractors and rather should be considered employees. This ruling seems to be directed at companies such as Uber and Lyft.
While companies save on financial obligations by retaining independent contractors, the legal responsibilities are crucial and penalties for misclassification can be severe. There are both civil and criminal penalties against companies and their owners/operators who wrongly classify an employee as an independent contractor.
Our full-service labor law office can not only help you understand whether any of your workers should be considered employees or independent contractors but can also ensure you have the proper contracts and documentation in place to retain your workers. With over 20 years of employment law experience, our labor lawyer is an expert in California labor laws. Call to schedule a consultation with our employment attorney before hiring to understand how to legally employ independent contractors.