Worker misclassification is all too common in California workplaces. According to the California Department of Industrial Relations, “misclassification of workers occurs when an employer improperly classifies their employees as independent contractors so that they do not have to pay payroll taxes, minimum wage or overtime, or comply with other wage and hour law requirements such as providing meal periods and rest breaks.”

California employment law is always changing. If your employer has not kept up with these important changes and continues to improperly classify you as an independent contractor and not an employee, you are likely missing out on important benefits. For example, labeling a worker as an independent contractor when they should be an employee undermines basic worker protections like minimum wage, paid sick days, and the safety of workplaces. Additionally, you will not receive basic rights afforded to your properly classified employee colleagues. For example:

  • employees are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits from the state
  • employees are entitled to wage and hour protections, including minimum wage and overtime, and
  • employees are protected under federal and state antidiscrimination laws

Uber and Lyft Drivers – Employees or Independent Contractors?

There is much debate in California regarding whether an Uber or Lyft driver is an employee or an independent contractor. California’s AB5, which went into effect on January 1, 2020, makes it difficult for employers to classify workers as contractors rather than employees. More recently, the California Public Utilities Commission ruled that ride-sharing drivers with Uber and Lyft are employees under California’s AB5. If you believe you have been improperly classified, the law and our experienced employment lawyers are on your side and ready to help you achieve the workplace rights you are entitled to.

Independent Contractor vs. Employee

In California, the distinction between an independent contractor and an employee is an significant one.

Independent contractors are generally self-employed individuals who are free to work on multiple projects at the same time, and take jobs on a freelance basis. Employees are workers who are employed by a business, person, or government entity. The employer typically exercises a high degree of control over the wages, hours, or working conditions of the employee.

What Next

This worker classification issue is a hotly contested area of employment law in California. If you believe your employer has been misclassifying you as an independent contractor and not an employee, you may be able to bring a legal claim against your employer.

For a free consultation about your legal rights as an independent contractor in California, contact the employment attorneys at Webb Law Group today.