This is the second post in our series on handling issues faced by independent contractors in Santa Ana and elsewhere in Orange County, California. Our last article provided an overview of topics we will be discussing and stressed the need to contact an employment law attorney if you feel your rights have been violated. Many make the mistake of thinking that they have no recourse when their employer claims that one is a contractor rather than an employee. There are, however, remedies which prevent a company from abusing the concept of an “independent contractor.” In this article we will be discussing a very important topic – determining whether an employer misclassified someone as an independent contractor. An experienced lawyer can help you determine if you have been misclassified.
Orange County workers may be an employee even though the company claims they are an independent contractor
There are several reasons why a company would prefer to classify workers as independent contractors. Doing so prevents the company from having to pay employment taxes (such as social security and medicare), exempts the company from overtime requirements, and also reduces a company’s liability for workplace injuries. The fact of the matter, however, is that California and Federal law may consider an Orange County worker to be an employee even if one’s company claims otherwise. In determining whether one is actually an employee, who has been misclassified as a contractor, a Court will consider factors such as the extent to which the company controls the way in which one works, the extent to which the worker is an indispensable part of the business, whether the worker uses unique skills when performing their duties, and how the worker is compensated (i.e. whether the worker is compensated by the hour, by salary, or by project).
Say, for example, that a company brings on a computer coder to perform work. The company does not specifically define the worker’s tenure but states that they will be utilized “as long as work is available.” The company dictates that the worker must use a Windows PC, rather than a Mac and also dictates the hours in which the coder must be performing work. Also suppose that the worker is being paid $1,000 per week regardless of how many hours they work. Under this scenario a Court would likely rule that the coder is an employee and not an independent contractor. The company is controlling the way the work is performed by dictating hours and the use of specific technology, the worker has unique skills, and they are being paid a salary, rather than being paid by the project, for an indefinite period of time. It must be understood, however, that the Court will rule in any case is always going to be situation specific.
Santa Ana workers should contact an employment law attorney to determine whether they were incorrectly called an independent contractor
Whether one was incorrectly called an independent contractor is always going to depend on the facts of a given case. Consulting with a Santa Ana employment law attorney can help one to determine whether they were misclassified by their company. A lawyer will review any contracts between the worker and the company, as well as any other documentation, and give an honest opinion as to whether the worker has a claim against the employer. If you believe that you have been misclassified then contact counsel as soon as possible.
Contact our office to schedule an initial consultation. We service the Orange County areas of Aliso Viejo, Anaheim, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Dana Point, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Habra, Ladera Ranch, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Ana, Tustin, Westminster, and Yorba Linda.