How far back can I go to claim unpaid wages as a 1099 contractor?

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How far back can I go to claim unpaid wages as a 1099 contractor?

I am a dance teacher. Have been at the same studio for 12 years. I am paid on a 1099 basis, but am paid hourly and they set my class hours. First thing, I’m pretty sure I should have been an employee all this time. Second, I just resigned, and they shorted my last check for hours I worked because they say it was not required work, and I chose to do extra work. So now I’m a disgruntled ex-teacher, and I want to go back and sue for other wages. All teachers are required to be at photo day, dress rehearsal, and 2 shows. The handbook states this. Nothing in writing says that this is to be unpaid time, and yet, we have never gotten paid for it. Can I take them to small claims court and get paid for that time? I would

probably only go back for 9 years of it, because prior to that, there was a different business owner.

Asked on June 12, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

1) If they have been controlling your hours and generally managing how you do your job, then yes, you most likely were an employee, regardless of what they called you (the law ignores what you call the relationship, and rather looks to its realities). The degree of control you describe over your job generally means "employee" not "contractor." (An "independent contractor" has a large degree of "independence"  as the term implies.) That means that you should have been receiving overtime if you worked more than 40 hours in a week; the employer should have paid the employer share of social security, etc. withholding for you; and you possibly should have received benefits, if offered to any other employees.
2) Whether employee or contractor, you have to be paid for all worked done--they can't short you saying you "chose" to do extra work.
3) If an employee, you can go back 2 years on a wage claim.
A good thing to try first would be to conrtact your state department of labor and file a wage and hour and "misclassification" complaint--they may be able to help you. If not, then you should be able to sue for any monies due you. Good luck. 


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