What is an Independent Contractor? - Barrett & Farahany

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What is an Independent Contractor?

What is an Independent Contractor?

independent contractor

In today’s workforce, it is becoming increasingly common for people to work as independent contractors rather than traditional salaried employees. This shift has many benefits for both the worker and the employer, but it also raises questions about worker protections and legal rights.

When you aren’t an official salaried or hourly wage employee, you may find that you don’t have the same workplace protections as those that are. This means that you must rely on local state laws or work knowing you’re at risk of being taken advantage of, in terms of pay, or subjected to worse working conditions than those you work with.

If you are struggling with your workplace situation as an independent contractor and you think your rights are being violated, contact the employment law attorneys at Barrett & Farahany. You may have a case against your contracted employer that can improve your situation.

What are Independent Contractors?

Independent contractors are workers who provide services to businesses or organizations on a contractual basis. Unlike salaried employees, they are not considered permanent employees and do not receive benefits such as health insurance, paid time off, or retirement plans unless offered by their contract. Even then, it’s unlikely they would receive such benefits before or after their contract ends.

The exact definition of an independent contractor varies depending on the state and federal laws. Generally, independent contractors have more control over their work schedule and methods, while salaried employees are subject to set hours and company policies.

Legal Protections for Independent Contractors

One of the main benefits of working as an independent contractor is the flexibility and autonomy it offers. However, this also means that they do not have the same legal protections as traditional employees. For example, independent contractors are not covered by anti-discrimination laws or are entitled to the minimum wage and overtime pay.

However, independent contractors are still protected under federal laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). These laws ensure that contractors are paid for their work and have the right to negotiate fair terms in their contracts.

What Legal Protections Do Independent Contractors Not Have That Other Workers Do?

As mentioned, independent contractors do not have the same legal protections as traditional employees. These include:

  • Protection from discrimination: Independent contractors are not protected under federal anti-discrimination laws such as Title VII or the Americans with Disabilities Act. The state in which they operate must have laws that protect independent contractors.
  • Minimum wage and overtime pay: While salaried employees are entitled to receive at least minimum wage and overtime pay, independent contractors negotiate their rates through their contracts. It’s legal for them to be paid less than minimum wage and receive no overtime pay, as long as it’s stated in their contract.
  • Employer-provided benefits: Independent contractors do not receive benefits such as health insurance or retirement plans from the companies they work for unless agreed upon in their contracts.

What States Offer Workplace Protections to Independent Contractors?

While federal laws provide some protections for independent contractors, some states have additional laws that offer further protection. These laws either give independent contractors legal protections against discrimination, or give many people protections against discrimination, and independent contractors fall under their laws. These states include:

  • California
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Washington

Navigating Legal Issues as an Independent Contractor: Essential Tips

As an independent contractor, understanding and navigating legal issues can be a daunting task. Here are a few tips to help guide you through potential legal challenges:

  1. Understand Your Contract: Make sure you thoroughly read and understand your contract before signing it if the other party has made changes that you don’t understand or is making you use theirs. It should clearly outline the terms and conditions, payment details, and your rights and responsibilities. If anything is unclear, our attorneys can help explain them.
  2. Familiarize Yourself with Local Laws: Laws that apply to independent contractors can vary by state. It’s crucial to be aware of the laws that pertain to your specific situation. This includes laws about wage payment, discrimination, and benefits.
  3. Keep Detailed Records: Maintain thorough records of your work, including hours worked, tasks completed, and payments received. This can serve as valuable evidence in the case of any disputes.
  4. Seek Legal Advice When Necessary: If you believe your rights have been violated, it’s important to consult with a legal professional experienced in employment law.
  5. Know Where to Get Help: Various organizations and legal firms, such as Barrett & Farahany, specialize in assisting independent contractors with their legal concerns. We can provide guidance, advice, and representation to protect your rights as an independent contractor.

Seek Legal Help from Barrett & Farahany

While independent contractors may not have the same legal protections as traditional employees, they still have rights that should be protected. In cases where an independent contractor faces employment law issues, such as discrimination or wage disputes, it is important to seek help from a reputable and experienced law firm.

Barrett & Farahany specializes in employment law and has a team of dedicated attorneys who are well-versed in the complexities of working as an independent contractor. We can provide legal counsel and representation to ensure that independent contractors receive fair treatment and compensation for their work.

With Barrett & Farahany’s help, you can receive the support you need. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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Barrett & Farahany

Georgia Office

3344 Peachtree Road NE, Suite 800
Atlanta, GA 30326

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Birmingham, AL 35203

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Chicago, IL 60601


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