Geoff McDonald & Associates wins the biggest settlement for Virginia in 2020 for $38.2 Million. Click for details.

Employee or Independent Contractor?

Sep 7, 2015 | Workers' Compensation

 Folks, trust me when I say wage and hour claims aren’t going anywhere.  In fact, I’d wager they will continue to rise as an ever-increasing number of employees pursue legal action for wages rightfully owed to them.  This area of the law is a minefield for businesses, particularly when it comes to classifying employees and determining which employees entitled to overtime.  What does this mean to you, Virginia employee?  Your employer may not be paying you all the wages you’re entitled to.

I Don’t Bill By the Hour So I’ll Keep This Brief

First, a brief legal lesson.  The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the body of federal law that determines the rights and obligations of workers and businesses.  An important part of the FLSA is the language that defines which workers are “employees” and which are “independent contractors.”  The difference between the two classifications is incredibly important. For example, employees (with certain limitations—but that’s the subject of another blog) are entitled to overtime, and independent contractors are not.

As you may know, employees who are entitled to overtime are paid one and a half times their normal wage for time worked in excess of 40 hours a week. (Again, there are exceptions, but I promised I’d be brief.) Because independent contractors don’t receive overtime, whether your employer designates you as an independent contractor or an employee can have a huge impact on your income if you’re regularly working in excess of 40 hours a week.

Businesses—even very sophisticated companies—get this determination wrong all the time.  In their defense, the classification of an “independent contractor” is tough to pin down and constantly changing.  Just a few weeks ago in mid-July, the Department of Labor issued guidance that most commentators agree raises the burden for employers to prove that their independent contractors are truly “independent contractors.” Not convinced?  The guidance itself states that “most workers are employees under the FLSA.”

Why Should You Care?

If you’re working as an independent contractor, take a minute to consider this question. If you were to describe the work you do, would you say that you are operating a business of your own for another business? Or are you, instead, economically dependent on an employer? Of course, this is an oversimplification, but if you tend to choose the second answer, you should consider looking at whether you are receiving all the wages owed to you.

We’ll continue to report on this developing area of the law, so make sure to check back.

Questions? Concerns?  As always, we’re here to help, so please don’t hesitate to contact us. And don’t forget to share with friends and family.

Geoff McDonald and Associates: 866-369-9051.


No Fees Unless We Win

    Fallen at work? Be sure to follow these steps

    Slip-and-fall injuries, along with falls from a height, are among the most common and most deadly work-related injuries. These injuries are especially severe if the victim had a pre-existing condition like a bad knee or poor eyesight.    Thanks to the eggshell...

    Workers’ Compensation and Repetitive Stress Injuries in Virginia

    Many people unintentionally torpedo their own injury claims when they give statements to insurance adjusters. Work-related repetitive stress injuries are a good example. Unless your pain has an ascertainable starting point, as outlined below, claims examiners in...

    Can an Independent Contractor Seek Workers’ Comp Benefits?

      Virginia’s workers’ compensation system provides benefits for employees who get injured while doing their jobs. The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act has a specific definition of an employee and many independent contractors do not fit that definition. However,...

    Can I Recover Workers’ Comp Benefits for a Heat-Related Injury?

    You never know how long you may be unable to work due to a heat-related injury. Even if you are eligible for workers’ compensation, these benefits do not cover all your lost earnings while you are unable to work in the same capacity as before. That is why, if your job...

    Are Remote Work Injuries Covered by Workers’ Compensation?

    Many people have been working from home to help slow the spread of coronavirus and try to avoid contracting this potentially deadly disease. With this increase in remote work, there could be an increase in at-home injuries while people are on the clock. This raises...

    Our Case Results

    Industrial Plant Accident

    Attorneys for the Plaintiff: Jeffrey A. Breit and Justin M. Sheldon Our client was killed in an industrial accident when an unauthorized worker was operating an overhead crane and pinned our client between…

    Rear-End Crash

    Our client suffered a traumatic brain injury, facial trauma, a dislocated hip and severe abdominal trauma when she was rear-ended at a traffic light by a tractor trailer. Suit was commenced shortly after…

    Assault of Log Truck Driver

    Attorneys for the Plaintiff: Geoffrey R. McDonald, Frank H. Hupfl, Justin M. Sheldon.
    Our client suffered a traumatic brain injury after being assaulted and knocked to the ground while fueling his logging…

    Drunk Driving Crash

    Our client suffered neck/head trauma and a broken wrist after his vehicle was struck by a drunk driver while he was stopped at a traffic light. Upon rejection of a settlement offer of $325,000, our litigation…

    Rear-End Collision

    Attorneys for the Plaintiff: Justin M. Sheldon and Geoff R. McDonald, Richmond
    GMA’s client was injured as a result of a rear-end collision in the greater Richmond area. The crash occurred a little after…

    Client Reviews

    Cheryl and Rich were wonderful and patient with me throughout the case. All of my questions were answered. They really helped me through this tough time and made sure to let me know what was going on. I really thank Geoff…

    Troy Saxby

    My experience with GMA staff was first rate. They always represented in a professional way and made sure I had everything as far as paperwork. Kara and Theo made sure to answer all my questions, was always available and so…

    Shirley Brown

    Geoff McDonald & Associates is the team that you want on the field if you’re in need of top notch legal defense! Mr. Taj Henley demonstrated true customer service skills and his expertise made me feel comfortable throughout the…

    Julian Reeves

    Geoff McDonald & Associates: Thank you Taj Henley for all of your hard work and dedication! Very expeditious in my case and I was very satisfied with my settlement. Will recommend to all my friends and family!

    Shareema Williams

    Geoff is number one in my book and I especially appreciate the support of Mr Henley

    Ebony Conwell

    I was so pleased with the knowledge and support from Mr. Taj Henley

    Kideem Frierson

    Thank you Geoff McDonald &Associates. A special thank you to Mr. Taj Henley

    Denise Conwell

    Mr. Taj Henley displays exceptional professionalism for Geoff McDonald & Associates, along with commendable communication skills and customer service. By his work ethic and commitment to the people he serves his value to any…

    Justin Fitzgerald