What are my rights as an independent contractor if I’m a hairstylist in a salon?

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What are my rights as an independent contractor if I’m a hairstylist in a salon?

A few months ago my boss announced that we were no longer commission workers but now independent contractors, and that nothing would change except that we do our own taxes now. I just want to know what that really means for me because I’m being told otherwise outside of work.

Asked on August 10, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If you are *truly* an independent contractor, you "do [y]our own taxes"--you are paid a gross amount, and nothing is withheld for you. You would also have to provide your own benefits, insurance, etc. 
But the issue is: are you an independent contractor? It doesn't matter what your boss calls you: the law looks to the realities of the situation, not what it is called, and if you meet the criteria to be an employee, your boss cannot escape his obligations regarding tax withhold, medicare and social security contributions, benefits, etc. just by calling you an independent contractor.
An independent contractor is "independent" to a greater or lesser degree; conversely, if you are not relatively independent of your employer, you are an employee, no matter what your boss calls you. So if several or all of the following apply--
1) your boss sets your hours;
2) your boss can actively manage you, and tell you what to do, when; 
3) you only have the one employer, and you do not try to market yourself to other employers;
4) your boss provides some or all of your tools and supplies;
--then you are an employee, not an independent contractor. And if an employee, your employer must pay the employer portion of medicare and social security for you; must make unemployment contributions on your behalf; must provide you any benefits (like health insurance or vacation days) provided employees; etc. If you believe that you have been misclassified as an indpendent contractor when you are an employee, speak to the state department of labor.


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