Understanding the Differences Between an Employee and an Independent Contractor in California
Today millions of people across the country consider themselves independent contractors. The rise of the “gig economy” has enticed countless individuals to sever traditional employer-employee relationships in favor of more flexibility. If you have joined this growing trend, you need to know your rights as an independent contractor and ensure you are not being misclassified, causing you to lose out on certain employee benefits and protections.
At Levin & Nalbandyan, LLP, we provide dedicated representation for workers who have been mistreated by their employers. Whether you are an independent contractor who is not getting paid or an employee who has been misclassified, we can help. Contact our office today at (213) 232-4848 for a free consultation.
Defining Employment Status in California
In 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 5 into law, which seeks to establish when a person can be appropriately classified as an independent contractor. The bill put forth the ABC test, a three-prong checklist in which all conditions must be satisfied.
In order to be classified as an independent contract, the ABC test requires:
- The worker is to be “free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work;”
- The worker must perform work that is “outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business;” and
- The worker must be “customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature.”
Over the past two years, the law has come under scrutiny. While still in effect, there have been modifications that allow companies to treat workers as independent contractors even though all of the conditions of the ABC test have not been met. Because of the complexities of AB 5, it is important to discuss any questions about your employment status directly with an experienced employment lawyer.
Your Rights as an Independent Contractor
While employees are afforded certain protections under state and federal law, independent contractors do have several rights. If you are classified as an independent contractor but are not being afforded any of these rights, you need to contact an attorney.
Rights you have as an independent contractor:
- Right to Control – you have the right to control the “manner and means of work.” You have the right to make decisions about where and how you work. If a business entity begins exercising control over your where, when, or how you work, you might be misclassified and entitled to protections and benefits as an employee. Your right to control includes the right to advertise and manage your business.
- Right to a Contract – Just because you are an independent contractor does not mean that you do not have the right to a contract detailing the terms of the work agreement, including the parameters of the project, how much you will be paid, and when you will receive payment.
- Right to Payment – As an independent contractor, it is in your best interest to have a clearly defined contract that describes how and when you will be paid. If a company fails to pay you for your work, you could then pursue legal action.
- Right to Pursue Legal Action – If your rights as an independent contractor are being violated or if you believe that your employment status was misclassified, you have the right to pursue legal action. You may be able to file a wage claim, report a labor law violation, or file a lawsuit.
You have the right to be correctly classified as an employee or independent contractor. If you were not, you might have a valid claim against the company that hired you. It is essential to act quickly, as you only have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit.
Contact a Los Angeles Employment Lawyer Today
To discuss your rights as an independent contractor or find out more about employment misclassifications, contact our office. Call (213) 232-4848 for a free and confidential consultation.