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Have you been told any of these misclassification myths?

Employers can use various guises to pay their workers less than what is legally owed them, or to deny them the benefits to which they would otherwise be entitled to receive. One way this is done is through misclassification of a worker's status.

Below are some common myths about worker misclassification it's good to be aware of.

  • It doesn't matter whether I'm classified as an employee or an independent contractor.

As it turns out, it could matter a great deal. Those who get misclassified as independent contractors may have benefits denied, like unemployment insurance (UI) and workers' compensation for injuries suffered at work. They could also lose their right to medical and family leave, protection from discrimination and retaliation.

  • Once I'm classified as an independent contractor under a law, I am automatically considered to be an independent contractor under all laws.

Not necessarily, as legitimate independent contractors according to one law might still be considered employees under additional laws.

  • Because my boss gave me a 1099 tax form, that identifies me as an independent contractor.

Simply because you were given a 1099 tax document doesn't classify you as an independent contractor. This is a murky and complicated distinction that many workers may not fully grasp. However, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), if your job leaves you economically dependent on the company, you likely have employee status.

Alternatively, if your economic role is that of a business person working for yourself, your classification may indeed be as an independent contractor. Under the terms of the FLSA, your status may be an employee even though the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers you to be an independent contractor.

As you can imagine, debunking these myths may require professional legal guidance from a California employment law attorney.

    Source: United States Department of Labor, "Myths About Misclassification," accessed Sep. 08, 2017

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