Missclassified as an Employee vs Independent Contractor?

This one is an opposite situation. Most of the time it is the question of me
being missclassified as a 1099. Let me explain

I worked for the same Company for 5.5 years as a freight broker as an
independent contractor up until 12/31/17. This employer forced me to sign w-4
or start a competing brokerage. I had helped him build from 5 employees to
now over 500 employees so naturally I signed. Not one thing changed when I
signed, I still had to provide my own equipment Laptop, Phone, supplies for
his employees, etc. My job functions did not change, I did not have to clock
in and out, I was able to come and go as I pleased with no hour expectations,
it was no different. I worked from home, my own private office, and the
employers office.

Like I figured the owner wanted me to sign so he could terminate me. He
terminated me this week and I want to know first if there is any legal
recourse to get all of the money withheld as taxes returned back to me on the
grounds of me being miss classified. I would then pay my own taxes I still
kept track of all expenses, etc..

Also I want to know if more importantly there is any legal recourse for giving
the man 5.5 years as a contractor and built his business and then discarded
with no severance, is there any claim to customers, financial compensation,
etc. Please and Thank You.

If wanting to know if I was terminated with cause it is yes But it is
complicated, blackmailed by an employee of mine that was dating my boss.

Thanks,

SDP

Asked on August 31, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Kansas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

1) He did not need you to come onboard as an employee to terminate working with you: unless you had a written employment contract as a contractor for a definite or defined period of time--and which was still in force (not expired or properly terminated), he could have stopped working with you at any time. Therefore, you have no claim regarding termination (unless he breached such a contract): whether as a contractor or employee, you could be terminated at will.
2) You have no claim to get the withholding back for three reasons:
a) You voluntarily became an employee: you could have refused and gone and done something else (like start a competing brokerage). Having decided to bcome an employee, you accepted all consequences of that status, like withholding.
b) You were not misclassified: misclassification only works "one way"--someone who should be an employee must be treated (and compensated) as one, not as an independent contractor, BUT it is perfectly legal for someone who could be an independent contractor to be an employee. It is not legally considerered misclassification to be an employee when you could also be an independent contractor, and so there is no liability or claim related to  misclassification.
c) You suffered no actual loss from withholding: if the money was paid for you for taxes, you will be credited for the payments at tax time. Only the timing of payment is affected, not the total amount of taxes. Without actually losing something, you are not entitled to compensation.


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