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What rights do I lose if my employer misclassifies me?

On Behalf of | Nov 14, 2022 | Employment Law |

Employers misclassifying employees is a common problem in New Jersey. Not only is this a legal violation, but it prevents workers from getting all the benefits to which they are entitled. Regardless of whether it is done intentionally or it is due to a simple mistake, workers who are not classified according to the law should know their options to ensure employers are held accountable.

Being misclassified will deprive employees of their rightful benefits

There is a major difference between a worker who is an independent contractor and one who is an employee. Many independent contractors may prefer their way of working as they have greater control over the types of jobs they take, their price and how they are supervised. For others, they want the security that accompanies being employed.

Employees are entitled to be paid based on the state minimum wage and to receive overtime if they work beyond 40 hours. If the worker is misclassified, they will be vulnerable to getting wages that amount to less than what the law dictates they are supposed to get. Additionally, they may not receive any overtime.

A potentially more serious problem is if the misclassified worker is injured on the job. Workers’ compensation benefits are meant to cover a worker for medical expenses, lost income and more. If they are not classified as they should be, they might not get workers’ compensation and could face financial and medical difficulties because of it.

Employees can take steps to make sure they are treated fairly under the National Labor Relations Act. Under this law, workers in the private sector can organize into unions, collectively bargain and strike. An independent contractor cannot do any of this. Job-protected family leave is not available for independent contractors. They will not have federal income tax withholdings for Medicare, Social Security Disability and more.

Misclassified workers should understand their rights and have professional advice

If workers are misclassified, it can cause them a host of problems they thought they should have been shielded from. This behavior is common with people who might be from other countries and are unsure of how the laws work, but it can happen to anyone in any type of job.

In some instances, classification of employees is relatively easy to straighten out by having legal help to let the employer know that this will not be tolerated and through simple negotiation. In other cases, it might be necessary to go to court for litigation. People who believe they have been misclassified or tried to use benefits they thought they were entitled to but were not granted should have help to assess their options and move forward to be classified correctly.