If a check for an independent contractor gets lost in the mail, is the employer still responsible for stop payment?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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If a check for an independent contractor gets lost in the mail, is the employer still responsible for stop payment?

I worked for a company for one day in December on a freelance contract. They
mailed the check and I never received it, and now they are saying that because I
was the only one who didn’t ‘come pick it up’ that I am responsible for paying
the 35 stop payment fee for issuing a new one. I know under section 191
employers are required to pay for this, but does it still apply for independent
contractors? I need documents for proof. I will make a stink. They pay their
freelancers minimum wage and now guilt them for not meeting their

Asked on February 14, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If you are truly an independent contractor, you are not protected by the laws protecting employees, so they could require you to pay this fee if you want the check stopped and reissued.
The real question is: are you truly an independent contractor? It does not matter what they call you or how they want to pay you: if you do not meet the criteria to be considered an independent contractor, you are an employee. For a more definitive answer about that, look up the definition of indepenent contractor found on both the U.S. Dept. of Labor and the IRS websites and compare to your job. The short, quick answer is if they manage you like an employee (tell you not just what they want you to do, but how to do it; tell you the hours you must work, location you must work at, etc.), then you are most likely an employee, not an independent contractor. If it appears that you are an employee, contact the state  or federal department of labor about a "misclassification" claim--you may be owed overtime, benefits, or the employer portion of tax withholding that an employer should pay for employees.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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