I was hired as an Independent Contractor as a Corporate Sales Rep fired as they didn’t want me to file Worker’s Comp

I was recently hired by a private company as an independent contractor after discussing employment with the company but for tax purposes they had decided it would be better if I were an independent contractor as their corporate sales rep. They then fired me after having had a terrible accident on my way to Corporate Headquarters for a mandatory meeting last week, as they didn’t want me to file for Worker’s Comp on behalf of the accident, which totaled my vehicle and sent me to the hospital. They have also refused to pay me for the last pay period, which is now past due and have threatened me with their attorney, by which they will not authorize me to speak to. This has all been done over email so I have copy of all of their communications. I have also been a licensed Realtor for almost 20 years, for which I am also an independent contractor, though back 16 years ago when I was working and was hit by another vehicle, it was handled through worker’s comp. Is there a reason why this would be any different?

Asked on August 18, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

If you truly were an independent contractor, you are not entitled to worker's compensation: only employees get worker's comp, but contractors are not employees. Sometimes, though, a person is incorrectly labeled ("misclassified") as an independent contractor when they should actually be considered an employee; if that is the case, they could get worker's compensation and may be entitled to other compensation, too (such as to have the employer reimburse them for that portion of social security, medicare, etc. taxes which an employer pays for an employee; for the value of other benefits which an employee would have gotten, but which they, because they were misclassified, did not). Go to the U.S. Dept. of Labor website and look up "independent contractor": you will find criteria there for when someone is and is not an independent contractor. Compare to your situation. If you believe after doing so that you really should have been considered an employee, consult with an employment law attorney about not just bringing your claim for the worker's compensation, but also for other compensation to which you may be entitled.


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