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California Employee Misclassification: How To File A Claim Online Now

Updated: Nov 11, 2022

How to Find the Best California Employee Misclassification Lawyer?

Contract work as an independent contractor is becoming increasingly common. If you or someone you know is being classified as an independent contractor for the job you do, it is important that you understand your rights. You may be severely penalized if you fall into the 1099 Misclassification category. To ensure that your rights are secured, contact a California Employment Attorney.


Power and compensation are the two factors that determine whether you are classified as an employee or an independent contractor. Independent contractors incur unreimbursed costs throughout their workday, and they are responsible for supplying the funds to support the equipment required to perform their job. These contractors also provide their services for a flat rate to a large number of customers. Employees are unable to function under all of these circumstances.


Employers often misclassify their workers as independent contractors to avoid paying them correctly. Your boss prevents the following if you are working as an independent contractor:

  • Providing you with overtime pay

  • Taking care of the taxes

  • Providing advantages to you

  • Contributing to workers' compensation

  • Contributing to unemployment benefits

If you believe your work status has been misclassified, contact a California Employment Attorney for legal advice and to protect your rights.


To save money and increase their bottom line, many companies choose to recruit contractors rather than full-time workers. Companies pay independent workers to work on temporary assignments and provide consultancy services, but they are not considered staff. Since an individual company can work for a company for several years, the distinction between workers and contractors may become blurred.


Many people are confused about the distinction between being an independent contractor and being an employee because there seems to be little difference in many situations. Employees and independent contractors often work for the same company and sometimes perform the same tasks.


The misclassifying staff as independent contractors when they should be employees is one of the employers' most common mistakes. Although some employers can honestly misclassify employees due to a lack of legal knowledge, others do so on purpose to escape legal responsibilities.


When keeping independent contractors' services, companies have many more grey areas to work with. They still have some leeway when it comes to matters of job taxes in some situations. On the other hand, independent contractors and self-employed persons should study their relationships carefully and bear in mind the special legal and tax issues to appreciate the differences.


When employees are misclassified as independent contractors, they lose access to various privileges and benefits to that they are entitled. Minimum wage, meal and rest hours, paid overtime, fines, and interest, and other related rights granted to workers are examples of this.


A change of work description can have consequences for liability and taxation. You could have a wage and hour argument if you usually work more than 40 hours a week or eight hours a day but are not paid overtime because you are considered an independent contractor.


Our prescreened Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles can explain the legal choices and are dedicated to protecting California workers' employment law rights. We will assist you in filing a lawsuit against your employer in order to recover any unpaid wages.


What are the signs that I'm a 1099-Misclassified Employee?


There is some ambiguity in determining whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor. Some people assume that it is up to the organization that receives an individual's work to identify them; however, this is incorrect. When determining whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor, the IRS has set specific rules. Some signs that you've been misclassified as a 1099 independent contractor include:

  • You're behind the wheel of a corporate car or another vehicle.

  • When you can take a break, the boss or someone in charge informs you.

  • The corporation owns the machine you use.

  • You are not submitting an invoice for services rendered monthly or weekly.

  • Another oversees your job, or you are reporting to a boss.

  • Someone keeps track of your progress and provides you with a work schedule to stick to.

  • You are expected to report to work in the uniform you wear as a representative of the organization.

  • You're using the company's business cards and email addresses.

  • There are those at work who perform the same tasks as you, but they are known as W2 workers.

  • Someone can tell you when it's time to take a break.

These are some of the more common indicators that an independent contractor is misclassified by the organization for which they deliver services. If you believe you have been misclassified, contact a Labor Law Attorney immediately because you may be facing potential legal issues and financial obligations.


What's the Difference Between Employees vs. Independent Contractors?


A contractor is typically a person who runs his or her own company. They typically provide resources and expertise that an organization doesn't normally provide. They also set their own hours and fees, work from their own place of business or home, serve several customers or clients, decide when and how to complete assignments, have their own tools and equipment, and bear the costs associated with the job.


While the client will have deadlines and requirements for the work, the contractor may decide how best to complete the task and how much time to devote to it. An independent contractor, for example, is a fashion designer who works from home, sets his or her own hours, designs items for various clients, and is paid on a project-by-project basis.


On the other hand, an employee normally works for a single employer over whom the corporation has a great deal of influence. They usually do work that is part of the company's daily operations.


Employees work at the employer's location, work under the hours set by the employer, have regularly scheduled hours, receive training and direction from the company, are subject to company discipline, are paid an hourly wage or salary, complete tasks in the manner requested by the employer, and do not invest in the work or incur costs associated with the work. The organization also offers instruction, supervision, and instructions for the work product, as well as control over how the employee completes the work.


California Wage Orders: ABC Classification Test


Lawyers, judges, and government officials have used the Borello multi-factored classification test to decide if a worker is an employee or a contractor for years, if not decades. One of the reasons was the company's ability to monitor how the job was done as well as how the employee achieved the desired results.


If a driver for a gig-economy car service, for example, determined when to start work on a given day, what days to work, where to work, when to leave for the day, when and for how long to take breaks, and what to wear to work, they were almost certainly known as independent contractors.


The worker is free from the company's guidance and influence in connection with the work performed, whether by contract or in practice.


To demonstrate this section of the ABC test, the California Supreme Court offered some examples. Western Ports v. Employment Sec. Dept. involved a company that had previously misclassified its delivery drivers and could not demonstrate that a truck driver was free from the company's guidance and control, as required by Part A of the ABC exam.


This was because the company required the driver to obtain permission before transporting passengers, to keep the truck clean, to work on tasks that were not scheduled in advance, and to terminate a driver's services for failure to contact the dispatch center, tardiness, or any other violation of the company's policy.


The employee does work that is not part of the company's normal operations.


This means that a worker is considered an independent contractor if their responsibilities are clearly the same or identical to those of workers, but the job is done outside of the business entity's normal operations. As a result, the worker is considered to have their own company and is not considered to be working with the recruiting agency.


The Court gave the following examples: When a retail store hires an outside electrician to install a new electrical line in the store's premises or a plumber to fix a leak in a toilet, the electrician's or plumber's services are not part of the store's normal course of business. As a result, the electrician or plumber may not have been disciplined or allowed to work at the store as an employee.


Staff, on the other hand, are called employees in the following situations:

  • When a bakery employs cake decorators regularly to work on custom-designed cakes

  • When a museum that offers classes hires an art teacher to teach art classes on a daily and ongoing basis

  • When a clothing manufacturing corporation hires a committed, work-at-home seamstress to make clothes using the entity's designs and materials, which will be marketed and sold by the entity

  • When a resort that offers entertainment hires a performer regularly.

  • When a business that harvests trees and sells cut timber hires a worker to cut and harvest trees, it's called "forest harvesting."

All of these cases have one thing in common: employees are employed to do work that is part of the company's normal business operations. As a result, it would be fair to regard them as workers under the (B) portion of the ABC test. The worker is normally working in a similar sector, occupation, or trade that he or she has started on their own.


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When determining whether a worker is an independent contractor, it isn't enough for the recruiting entity to allow the worker to work for other clients or run his or her own company. Instead, courts will consider whether the company is marketed, whether it is registered or incorporated, and whether it provides services to the general public and other potential clients.


The ABC test allows the recruiting entity to demonstrate that a worker who decided to start a company for himself or herself followed the standard procedures for establishing and marketing an independent business. If the hiring body marks the worker as an independent contractor arbitrarily, the worker should be treated as an employee because he or she is not engaged in an independently defined trade. Furthermore, the fact that the recruiting entity did not discourage or forbid the worker from participating in independent trade is insufficient evidence that the worker chose to go into business for himself or herself.


When classifying staff, care must be taken to ensure that they meet all of the A, B, and C criteria. If a recruiting agency fails to create any of these three sections of the ABC test, the worker would be classified as an employee for the purposes of the California Wage Orders rather than an independent contractor. The California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) will also use these measures to decide whether the wage orders cover a worker.


Independent contractors are now protected from abuse by recruiting firms as a result of the Court's decision and are in a stronger position to ensure that their interests are addressed and met while doing business with such companies. When an employee works for a company, the legislation ensures a certain level of flexibility regarding benefits, holidays, and pay scale.


Employees in California Are Entitled to Certain Rights and Benefits


Under state and federal law, California employees are entitled to various protections. Some of the laws that apply to workers but not contractors are as follows:

  • Employees are covered by anti-discrimination laws on both a state and federal level.

  • Unemployment insurance plans are available to employees.

  • Wage and hour protections, such as paid overtime, minimum wage, and meal or rest breaks, are all guaranteed to employees.

  • Employers are required to provide workers' compensation benefits to their employees.

  • Employers are required to deduct federal and state income taxes from their workers' paychecks.

What Are The Rights and Responsibilities Of An Independent Contractor?


The "hiring" agency is called a client, not an employer, regarding independent contractors. Independent contractors fully control how, where, and where a project is done. The organization that hires a contractor does not have the authority to guide and manage the job. The customer decides the desired result of the job, but the independent contractor has complete control over how it is accomplished.


Although the client does not have direct control or direction over the job, the independent contractor does not completely control all aspects of the partnership. Independent contractors are required to finish the project according to the terms of their contract as soon as possible. Furthermore, independent contractors must pay their taxes since the "hiring" firms are not allowed to withhold taxes.


As an independent contractor, you are responsible for the following:

  • If no one is paying into the unemployment fund on your behalf, you will be ineligible for unemployment insurance.

  • If no one is paying into the worker's compensation fund on your behalf, you will be ineligible for worker's compensation.

  • Making sure you've paid enough of your Social Security and Medicare contributions. Your employer would be responsible for half of the cost if you were an employee; but, if you are an independent contractor, you are responsible for the entire cost.

  • You are solely responsible for your own healthcare coverage.

  • Employees are not eligible for any job benefits such as sick pay, rest breaks, overtime pay, or minimum wage insurance.

If you believe your job qualifies you to be listed as an employee and receive employee benefits, contact a California Employment Attorney who is familiar with these rules and can battle to ensure you receive the security provided by the US Department of Labor's employee rights.


Your duty as a 1099 independent contractor is to pay Medicare and Social Security taxes. As if you were an employee rather than an independent contractor, use IRS Form 8919 to register and calculate your share of uncollected taxes due. If one of the following considerations applies to your case, you can only use Form 8919:

  • The IRS sent you a letter stating that your employment status qualifies you as an employee.

  • The services you provide were previously provided when you were an employee, but your employer changed your status to an independent contractor.

  • Others at the workplace perform the same tasks as you, but they are categorized as workers, while you are classified as an independent contractor.

  • Workers who perform the same tasks as you were originally known as independent contractors but filed Form SS-8 and were determined to be employees.

  • You've submitted Form SS-8 and are waiting for a response.

Written Agreements Aren't Always Reliable


Written agreements are typical in hiring arrangements, in which the person being hired agrees that he or she is not an employee but rather an independent contractor. This implies that they acknowledge that California labor laws do not cover them. This is simply a mark given to a worker by an employer, and it has no legal bearing on the existence of a hiring relationship in California.


If a worker and a corporation have a signed independent contractor agreement but behave as an employer and an employee, California courts may not presume that the worker is a contractor simply because it is specified in the agreement. As a result, even though the signed agreement says otherwise, one may be called an employee. What counts is the essence of the job at hand and the nature of the parties relationship.


Similarly, whether a worker is an independent contractor is not determined by whether he or she is given a 1099 form instead of a W-2 form for federal tax purposes. The legal tests used to decide if an existing employment arrangement exists under California law and for federal tax purposes vary slightly. Furthermore, some businesses wrongly misclassify employees as contractors to avoid the costs of jobs. Consider one of our prescreened California Lawyers in your California Attorney Search.


California Employee Misclassification Penalties


Employee misclassification is a punishable offense that the IRS can view as an attempt at tax fraud. Willful misclassification of an independent contractor means intentionally and willingly misclassifying a worker as an independent contractor to escape employee status as established by California law. Willful misclassification of jobs is punishable by a civil penalty under Labor Code section 226.8. If the employer is charged with this penalty, he or she is forbidden from deducting or charging any fees from the employee's pay.


Since there are many wage and hour penalties for missed meal and rest breaks, unpaid overtime, and unpaid salaries, employers are expected to be cautious when deciding which jobs to identify as employees of independent contractors. In addition, if the employer's conduct were in bad faith, an employee would be entitled to seek "liquidated damages." The amount of damages is equal to the unpaid wages plus interest. In addition, if an employee is misclassified, he or she will sue for damages if the employer fails to offer meal and rest breaks.


The employee will sue for damages equal to one hour's pay at the normal rate for each break he or she did not receive. In most cases, the damages available in a successful lawsuit are determined by wage and hour violations, such as:

  • Violations of meal and rest breaks

  • Infractions of the overtime rule

  • Violations of the minimum wage

  • Staff is being misclassified as independent contractors on purpose

In California, an employer cannot fire an employee for disclosing independent contractor misclassification and practicing their labor law rights. Any retaliation against anyone who reports intentional misclassification or files a wage and hour lawsuit is illegal and punishable. In this scenario, retaliation often means firing the employee without cause.


Misclassification Lawsuits' Statute of Limitations


Individuals have only three years from the date of the most recent infringement to file a California wage and hour complaint against a corporation. If the employee has a lawsuit against the employer for a breach of contract, the statute of limitations is four years.


As a 1099 independent contractor, how do I file for unemployment or workers' compensation?


If you are misclassified as a 1099 Independent Contractor, you will almost certainly be denied compensation if you are hurt on the job, laid off, or fired. If you believe you've been listed unfairly, you should file an unemployment insurance claim and justify your case to your state unemployment department. It would benefit you to have legal representation on hand in these cases.


When filing for unemployment with the state department, explain why you were misclassified as a contractor rather than an employee, and they will investigate the situation for you. Having a California Employment Attorney by your side will help expedite the process and ensure that you do not lose revenue for an extended period. When your Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles and the state agree that you should have been counted as an employee, your employer is responsible for covering your unemployment and any back payments to the state fund.


If you've been injured while performing your duties and your employer refuses to compensate you, you can file a claim with your state's worker's compensation insurance department. Your Employment Lawyer will also assist you in this process, as it would be necessary to show that you are employed and entitled to compensation.


How Does the Fair Labor Standards Act Affect California Employees?


The Fair Labor Standards Act is a federal statute that prohibits discrimination in the workplace. This legislation was enacted in 1938 to protect your rights as a worker in the United States. If you work more than forty hours a week, you have the right to earn a minimum wage and overtime pay. Many minors were also banned from working under this act.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Fact Sheet 13 provides details on work relationships and describes FLSA provisions. The characteristics listed on the Sheet were established by the United States Supreme Court to assist you in determining whether you are an employee or an independent contractor under the law.

These are some of the variables that are thought to be important in determining the difference:

  • The level of control exerted by the person supervising or overseeing your job and the extent of that control.

  • The extent to which your job is related to the main business

  • How much have you spent on the building and equipment?

  • How long do you think your job will last?

  • Profits and losses are both possible for you.

  • How much of your business success is determined by your decision, initiative, or foresight in the marketplace?

In addition to these considerations, the Supreme Court has identified several irrelevant factors when deciding whether you are an independent contractor or an employee. These considerations include the location of your job, the fact that you are self-employed, and whether or not your state or local government approves you. This Court has also decided that whether you are an employee or an independent contractor is not determined by how or what you are paid.


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Certain professions are more perplexing when it comes to job status. The construction industry is at the top because contractors recruit people they refer to as independent contractors but should be classified as workers because they do not follow the independence tests outlined above. Another sector where employee status issues can arise is the franchise industry. Often, the franchisor has extensive influence over the franchisee, effectively classifying them as employees.


A volunteer relationship is formed when someone offers their services to another person. A current employee would donate their time or resources in this case, which are identical to the services they provide as an employee. Students and trainees, as well as those who conduct job duties at home, often fall under the parameters of an employee relationship.


If you or someone you know falls under these parameters but is not being treated as an employee, you can consult with an Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles. When you are classified as an independent contractor, your employer withholds important benefits that you are entitled to under the law.


Why 1099 Misclassification Looks Like a "Scam"?


When an employer misclassifies you as an independent contractor on purpose, they are essentially scamming you out of benefits to which you are legally entitled. 1099 misclassification, also known as "payroll theft," is frightening in many industries. Janitorial, shipping, home care, and trucking workers are bringing big cases against firms that intentionally misclassify their employees as independent contractors.


Employers sometimes misclassify employees to prevent them from making lawsuits. It gives you the false idea that you have no rights when you are told you are an independent contractor rather than an employee. Find a Los Angeles Employment Lawyer if you are concerned that you are not getting adequate employee protection. We will provide you with the legal advice you need to ensure that you are adequately compensated for your work or services.


Employee Misclassification Rule in California


According to federal law, your ability to operate as an independent contractor is determined by how much 'power' your boss has over your job responsibilities. When, how, and where they order you to conduct your duties is referred to as control. They are more likely to classify you as an employee if they have more control over your work habits.

The Independent Contractor Law in California is much more protective than the federal regulations. An independent contractor can show they should be treated as an employee under California law in three different ways, entitling them to labor code fines, overtime pay, and other benefits.

California introduced the 'ABC test in 2018 to determine whether anyone should be listed as an independent contractor or an employee. When working in California, this is the most accurate test for confirming your job status.


You are no longer under the company's management.


The organization for which you work or deliver services must demonstrate that you are not under its influence when performing your duties. They can't tell you how many hours you have to work, or make your report to a certain location on any given day, or make you wear their company uniform, or make your report to a specific manager.'


Your responsibilities aren't part of the company's daily operations.


Your responsibilities must be outside the company's core business to be considered independent contractors under California law. For example, if you work for a distribution company and your primary responsibility is to deliver products, you must be classified as an employee.


You run a different organization from the one you work for.


Your employer must show that you are regularly engaged in a trade, occupation, or business that is unrelated to the company. This exam section will require you to demonstrate that you are self-employed.


Your employer cannot fail to prove any of the three "ABCs" under the California Supreme Court decision that introduced the "ABC" test. Otherwise, they must classify you as their employee. If it is proved that you were misclassified, you are entitled to a share of the overall labor code fines under California's Private Attorney General Act. The California labor commission will be awarded for each deliberate misclassification found under the 1099 misclassification code.


California Employer Penalties


Misclassifying workers can get you into a lot of trouble if the government realizes they're losing out on payroll and tax revenue, which can lead to legal problems. Contact a California Employment Attorney to learn about your legal options if you have been accused of misclassifying your workers as an employer.


Even if the government discovers that you mistakenly misclassified your workers, you would be fined. You'll have to deal with the following:

  • Fees for each W2 you fail to file

  • 40 percent of each employee's FICA contributions must be paid

  • Having to pay the full amount of each employee's FICA contributions

  • Paying a half-percentage point of each employee's salary, plus an additional interest measure

If the government finds out that you deliberately misclassified workers for financial gain, you may face the following penalties:

  • A year in prison is possible

  • Having to pay a quarter of each employee's salary

  • Paying fines in criminal fines for each misclassified employee

  • Compulsory payment of 100% of each employee's FICA contributions

If it is found that the misclassification was done on purpose, the individual who filed the paperwork may be held personally liable. During this process, you will require legal counsel to ensure that your legal rights are secured. These proceedings have the potential to tarnish your company's reputation, so you'll want the best advice you can get.


Punitive damages, compensation beyond the fines and back payments, and the loss of your employee's time could cripple your company's budget. Many of these misclassification errors are caused by a simple misunderstanding or misinterpretation of tax laws, and you will need our extensive knowledge of such laws to help you get through this difficult task.


How Misclassification Becomes a Corporate Audit?


According to the government, employers cannot handle independent contractors the same as W2 workers. You can't give them on-the-job training, make them work those hours, or expect them to do any work that an employee would do. If you foresee any of these three roles from people doing services for you, it's a sign that you're being misclassified.


An organizational audit can occur if one of the contractors' files for unemployment compensation records the conditions under the whistleblower act or files a Form SS-8 to assess their classification. There will be no notice, and proving that the misclassification was accidental will take a long time for your business. Contact a Los Angeles Employment Lawyer familiar with the laws and regulations governing employment. We will provide you with the legal advice you need to get through a difficult and potentially costly situation.


While legal counsel will assist you in proving that the 1099 misclassification was accidental, the company would still be subject to severe penalties. You may face monetary penalties, such as severance or health-care benefits for misclassified workers and back taxes. There may also be long-term ramifications, such as civil or criminal penalties.


Find An Employee Misclassification Lawyer in Los Angeles


1000Attorneys.com is a California Bar Association Certified Lawyer Referral Service that can refer you to a California Employment Attorney that's best fit to handle their unique case. You may contact us through our 24/7 live chat (or complete our case details submission form) for a free initial consultation.

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