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When is Employment Status an Issue in Discrimination Cases?

In the wide variety of labor and employment cases that arise, there is often a more basic legal issue than whether discrimination may have occurred. Determining employer or employee status is an issue that may need to be resolved before the merits of the case be addressed. This is particularly true when there are independent contractors, subcontractors or self-employed workers involved. If you believe your employment status may be unclear and you have a potential employment claim, discuss your situation with our Birmingham employment attorneys.

Who’s who in the employment context?

Typically, in an employment case, your boss is the one who would be held responsible for discrimination or retaliation claims related to employment. However, the reality is that determining the proper employer and proving your employee status can be a challenge. Birmingham employment attorneys have experience sorting through these issues and determining who should be held liable for illegal actions in the workplace.

Are you an employee or an independent contractor?

For some employees, their status is not always crystal clear. But our Birmingham employment attorneys recommend a few questions you can ask yourself in order to figure out whether you are an independent contractor or simply an employee. Those who are paid on a project-byproject basis are most often independent contractors. When the hours you work are decided by someone else and that person provides you with the equipment and materials that are required to perform your job, then you will most likely be considered an employee. When an employer provides all of the instructions for getting the work done, instead of giving you the power to complete the job in any manner you choose, then you are more likely considered an employee.

Why does your employment status matter?

You may be wondering why employment status matters. If you are working for someone and they mistreat you, what does it matter that you are an independent contractor? The truth is, your rights may be different depending on how you are classified. As far as an employer is concerned, independent contractors are often more cost-effective than employees because there is no need for benefits, withholding income taxes, or other costs associated with actual employees.

On the other hand, an independent contractor is considered self-employed, meaning they are not protected by most labor and employment laws or related tax laws. So, if you are misclassified as an independent contractor by your employer, that business will benefit especially when an employment lawsuit is filed. The thing to remember is that only employees are protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act, overtime and minimum wage laws, worker’s compensation and unemployment benefits, and other laws available only to employees. If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination or retaliation in the workplace, or if you have any other questions regarding your employment rights, please contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Wrady & Michel, LLC. You can contact us either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880. We are here to serve you!