This is the second post in our series on wage theft in Atlanta, Georgia. Our last article served as an overview of topics which this series will be addressing and stressed the need to speak with an attorney immediately if you have not received compensation which you are entitled to. It is important that you speak with a lawyer sooner, rather than later, to ensure that your rights are fully protected. In this article we will address a common problem in today’s economy – the misclassification of employees as independent contractors. If you feel your company has misclassified you then contact our office today to speak with an employment law lawyer.
Companies prefer independent contractors over employees for several reasons. By classifying someone as a contractor the company does not have to pay employment taxes (such as social security and Medicare), does not have to comply with overtime rules, and is exposed to less liability for workplace injuries. Georgia, like other states, limits the ability of a company to call someone an independent contractor and it is possible for a worker to be considered an employee even if the employer states otherwise. When determining whether someone is actually an employee the 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, hypothetically, that a company brings on a software engineer to perform work. The company does not specifically define the duration of employment. They simply say that the worker will be there for “as long as work is available.” The company dictates that the worker must use a Linux operating system, rather than Windows or a Mac, and also dictates the hours in which the coder must be performing work. Also suppose that the worker is being paid $1,500 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. This is because the employer 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 a lump sum for completion of the project) for an indefinite period of time. It is important to understand, however, that how the Court will rule in a given case is situation specific.
Whether one was incorrectly called an independent contractor is always going to depend on the facts of their situation. Speaking with an Atlanta employment law attorney can help one to better understand their rights. A lawyer will review the worker’s contracts, as well as other documentation, and give an honest assessment 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. In addition to Atlanta we also service areas including Macon, Savannah, Athens, Kennesaw, Marietta, Decatur, Dunwoody, Stone Mountain, Tucker, Alpharetta, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Duluth, Lawrenceville, Lilburn, Norcross, Gainesville, as well as the counties of Bibb, Chatham, Clarke, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett, and Richmond. We also assist those elsewhere in the state of Georgia and throughout the United States.