Do Employment Laws Apply to Independent Contractors

Do Employment Laws Apply to Independent Contractors?

August 01, 2022
By Peter Friedmann

Being an independent contractor is different than being an employee. Certain employment laws do not apply to independent contractors, such as certain protections afforded by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Understanding some of the basics of how employment laws relate to independent contracting can be helpful, especially if you are making the move from full-time work to independent contracting or you think you have been misclassified as an independent contractor.

Below, we look at if employment laws apply to independent contractors in Ohio.

Note: The following is not legal advice. It is general information meant to educate. Please reach out to The Friedmann Firm, LLC to speak with an employment lawyer for legal advice or guidance.

Do Employment Laws Apply to Independent Contractors?

Generally, no, employment laws do not apply to independent contractors.  Specifically, the FLSA does not apply to independent contractors.  If you are an independent contractor, you are exempt from all of the protections of the FLSA including a guaranteed minimum wage, overtime pay, and other related provisions.

No employer-employee relationship exists between the employer and the independent contractor, since said independent contractor will be under a contract to perform special services (often on a “per job” basis).

According to the FLSA, an employer-employee relationship “must be distinguished from a strictly contractual one.”

There is no single rule or test that can fully determine if a person is an independent contractor or an employee. But the U.S. Supreme Court does consider a few factors to be significant when determining if someone is an independent contractor or an employee.  Those factors include but are not limited to:

  • The nature and degree of control by the principal
  • The permanency of the relationship
  • The extent to which the services rendered are an integral part of the principal’s business.

An important note here: for an independent contractor to be excluded from employment, the employer needs to establish that the contractor is “free from direction or control over the service being performed”, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Since whether you are an independent contractor or employee depends on many factors, misclassification is common.  Misclassification is a violation of the FLSA.  Sometimes employers will classify an individual as an independent contractor when that person should actually be an employee, entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay. 

If you are unsure of how you should be classified, please reach out to an employment lawyer in Toledo, Ohio for a free consultation.

To read more about the employee-employer relationship as defined by the FLSA, see their fact sheet here.

Misclassification as an Independent Contractor

Now that you know that employment laws do not apply to independent contractors, let’s briefly look at what misclassification can mean for employees.

Under the FLSA, workers are entitled to things like minimum wage and overtime pay protections when there is an employment relationship, and the employer is covered by FLSA. But some employers unknowingly or knowingly misclassify employees as independent contractors.

The FLSA is complex and can often be confusing for both employers and employees, leading to employees being misclassified as exempt.

Misclassification as an exempt employee or as an independent contractor when you are really a non-exempt employee (meaning you are covered by FLSA protections), is a common mistake. In 2021 alone, the Department of Labor collected $234 million in back wages for employees that were not paid appropriately, according to the FLSA.

When misclassification happens, your employer may try to deny you protections and benefits that you should legally be afforded as an employee.

As a worker, it is especially important for you to take stock of your job duties. Your job duties dictate whether you are an independent contractor or an employee.  If you are unsure of how you should be classified, reach out to our firm to speak with an employment lawyer today.

Speak With an Employment Lawyer in Toledo, Ohio for Further Help

Here at The Friedmann Firm, LLC, our team is well-versed in employment law and is here to provide free, confidential consultations. If you believe you have been misclassified as an independent contractor, we are here to help.

Misclassification can lead to denial of workplace benefits, overtime pay, and other benefits that you are entitled to as an employee.

You can connect with an employment lawyer from Toledo, Ohio today over the phone at (440) 703-8550 or online.