Every employee in the United States has the right, according to the federal government, to perform their job in a safe working environment. Even though accidents can happen, employers are required by law to make sure that the risk of injury or death is low. They are also required to make the working environment as safe as possible, providing protective equipment to workers to prevent injury and paying compensation when a work-related injury occurs.
In industries such as construction, even though it is considered more dangerous than some other professions, the same rule applies. But did you know that some construction companies purposefully try to shirk responsibility and save money simply by classifying their workers as independent contractors? Not only is such a behavior considered illegal in several states, but it can also lead to civil litigation if a construction worker knows what to look for.
In a 2014 court case involving FedEx and its drivers, the courts explained that an employee is not considered an independent contractor just because an employer labels them as such. Certain criteria must be met such as, but not limited to:
- The extent of involvement the employer has in the work an employee does
- The degree to which the employee works independently from the employer
- How permanent the employer/employee relationship is
- How much investment the employee has to make into their own materials and equipment
As you probably realize though, the interpretation of a construction workers employment status relies heavily on what is outlines in his or her contract agreement. If the language necessary to establish an independent contractor status is unclear or absent altogether, disputes may arise. These disputes oftentimes require the help of a skilled lawyer because of the complexity of the law and what's at stake if further misinterpretations occur.
Source: FindLaw, "Can Independent Contractors Get Workers' Comp?" Daniel Taylor, Esq., Dec. 16, 2014