top of page

Misclassification of Employees as Independent Contractors in California

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

Guide to Employee Misclassification in California

Employee classification is crucial in California labor law. Whether you're an employee or an independent contractor, your rights and employment benefits are directly affected. That said, let's look at their important distinctions, how they affect your employment, and what that means for potential employment claims.

Differentiating The Employee From The Independent Contractor in California

So, how would employment lawyers categorize employees vs. independent contractors? Here's a quick rundown:

  • Employees work for a company (usually on a long-term basis). They are paid a salary or an hourly wage to execute duties for the company. In exchange for having complete control over how the work is conducted, an employer must teach their own personnel and provide the necessary equipment for them to perform the job. Finally (and perhaps most critically), an employee does work that is part of the company's daily operations.

  • Independent contractors work for themselves. Independent contractors frequently do specialized work for several clients, have their own schedules, provide their own tools, and are their own bosses. When they work for a firm, they frequently do things unrelated to the organization's core business.

employee misclassification california

Why Is The Different Crucial In California Labor Law?

Under state law, employees are entitled to several protections and benefits that do not apply to independent contractors. Employees are eligible for the following benefits:

  • Meal breaks

  • Rest breaks

  • Overtime

  • Unemployment insurance

  • Social Security

  • Workers' compensation

  • Protections for minimum wage workers

  • Anti-discrimination laws

Such perks are not available to independent contractors. According to this rationale, if someone is misclassified as an independent contractor when they are truly an employee, they could lose thousands of dollars in salaries, benefits, and other perks.

The ABC Test For Independent Contractors In California

Since a lot is riding on the difference between an employee and an independent contractor, you must be clear on which type of worker you are.

One way to determine whether you're an independent contractor or not is the ABC test based on California Independent Contractor Law, whereas a worker is considered an employee unless:

  • Absence Of Control. The worker is free from the hiring entity's control and direction regarding the work's performance.

  • Business. The employee does work isn't part of the hiring company's normal operations.

  • Customarily Engaged. The worker is usually involved in an independently established trade, occupation, or company relevant to the current job.

If you fit neither of the above factors, then you might be considered an employee under California law. Since there are many more benefits to being an employee, workers misclassified as independent contractors might miss out on benefits and pay.

Contact a prescreened California Employment Attorney to help you ASAP if you've been misclassified. A lawyer can help you get evidence, request paperwork, and manage the claims process.

How To Deal With Worker Misclassification In California?

Willfully or purposefully misclassifying a person as an independent contractor is prohibited under California Labor Code 226.8. As a result, if your employer misclassifies you as an independent contractor on purpose, you might be entitled to compensation.

You may be able to receive damages for the following things if you file a wage and hour lawsuit:

  • Unpaid wages, salaries, breaks, and overtime

  • Penalties and interest

If the misclassification was willful, you might be entitled to liquidated damages equivalent to twice your unpaid salary plus interest.

For their violation, the employer may potentially be penalized. Each infringement could result in a fine for the employer. The act of deliberately and voluntarily misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor is known as willful misclassification.

That said, contact a California Employment Attorney before you make any moves. You want to ensure you take the right steps toward a successful claim.

Filing a PAGA Claim for Misclassification of Employees

In addition to the wage and hour litigation, you may be able to bring a PAGA claim. Employees can file claims against their employers for violations of the California labor code if they file a claim under the California Private Attorney General Act.

If you are successful, you will receive 25% of the penalty imposed on the company for breaking labor regulations. The state receives the leftover cash. This compensation is in addition to any award you may receive due to your wage and hour litigation.

misclassification of employees as independent contractors california

Taking Legal Action Against Your Employer Under Federal Law

Some employees opt to initiate a lawsuit under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act for worker misclassification. One of the benefits of filing under federal law is that if you are successful, you could collect double your unpaid pay plus interest.

However, there are no standard criteria to determine whether you are an independent contractor or an employee under federal law. Many criteria go into determining your employment status, making it more difficult to prove your case.

You should consider all of your options before bringing a claim for misclassification as an independent contractor. However, don't wait too long to take action because wage and hour claims, including employee misclassification claims, have deadlines.

Consult with a California Employment Attorney before making a decision.

Find A Pre-screened Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles (And Across California) is a California Bar Association Certified Lawyer Referral Service that can refer you to an attorney best fit for your case. You can complete our submission form or reach us through our 24/7 live chat for a free initial consultation.


Best Lawyers Near Los Angeles

California State Bar Certified Lawyer Referral And Information Service

Welcome to, a Lawyer Referral and Information Service certified and approved by the California State Bar.

"Our commitment is to provide you with unbiased and impartial lawyer referrals."


Unlike other services, we maintain complete independence from the lawyers receiving these referrals, ensuring transparency and fairness.

While we specialize in California employment law and personal injury claims, we offer our referral services for various other legal areas.


At, we aim to ensure you are connected with best California attorney near you who can provide comprehensive and exceptional representation for your specific legal needs.


We understand that every legal situation is unique and are dedicated to finding the best match for you.


With our extensive network of attorneys, we strive to deliver outstanding legal support and guidance tailored to your individual requirements.

At, we hold California attorneys to the highest standards of professional conduct.


Your satisfaction and confidence in the legal representation you receive are paramount to us.


Rest assured that when you engage in our services, you can expect nothing less than exceptional legal support and guidance.

Why Lawyer Referrals Matter


The California State Bar investigates on average 16,000 complaints of professional misconduct by attorneys annually.

We conduct due diligence by researching and recommending the best local attorney for your case. 


Our team of experts verifies that attorneys are in good standing and have the required experience in the type of law related to your legal issue. 

Learn more about attorney discipline here.


Our History 


Since 2005, we have been dedicated to helping individuals find reliable legal representation in California.


We understand the challenges people face when trying to locate reputable lawyers, especially when inundated with self-promoting advertisements and biased marketing from law firms.


At our service, we strive to cut through the noise and provide a trustworthy and unbiased platform for connecting individuals with reputable California lawyers.


Our clients receive quality legal representation without the frustration and uncertainty often associated with legal advertising.

How the LRS Works 

Anyone seeking competent and honest legal representation in California, can request a FREE lawyer referral. 

Once you submit your case details online, our legal 24-hour legal department will review your claim and reply via email. Most cases are reviewed and answered within 15 minutes. 


A free 30 minute consultation with the attorney will be offered to each referred client. 

A representative will follow up a few days later via email with the client after receiving a referral for quality management purposes, or to obtain the status of the case. 

About lawyers from our network

California lawyers in our network are insured, in good standing with the California State Bar, and have substantial experience in their practice area.


Attorneys are available in most areas of law throughout Southern California. Every lawyer in or network has been vetted for:

  • Credentials

  • Education

  • Communication skills

  • Performance

  • Client reviews

  • Fair legal fees

  • Continuing education

  • Professional affiliations

Additionally, we conduct criminal  background checks and attorneys are always monitored by our service.  

How to find the best lawyer for your legal case: 

1. The fastest way to have your legal issue reviewed by one of our attorneys is to send your details online.


Your information will go directly to our 24 hour legal department bypassing our call center. You will get a reply via email within 15 minutes. 

2. You may also inquire about your legal issue via email. We respond to email inquiries within 24 hours M-F. 

3. By calling our lawyer referral hotline 661-310-7999. However, our agents are not attorneys and cannot provide legal advice. Due to high call volumes, it's highly recommended that you use option # 1 above. 


Simple Retro Handyman Service Badge Logo-2.png
bottom of page