Employers have a great deal of control regarding their hiring decisions. However, that does not mean workers are without rights to full compensation and fair treatment. When employers violate these rights, like they do when they misclassify workers, they should be held accountable.
What is misclassification?
Misclassification occurs when employers claim a worker is something other than a non-exempt employee. They might hire someone and classify them as independent contractors, managers or exempt employees. Employers might do this to avoid their duties related to:
- Paying overtime
- Offering benefits
- Paying taxes
Whether intentional or accidental, misclassification violates workers’ rights and can be grounds for legal action.
The impact of misclassification on workers
Employment classifications affect job duties, reporting structures, tax obligations and compensation. Improper classification can have professional, financial and personal consequences.
For example, a misclassified worker may work longer hours without overtime because they feel it is part of their job as a manager, even though they have no actual managerial duties.
They might not pursue workers’ compensation if they are classified as an independent contractor, even though they do not have the flexibility to make their schedules that should come with being an independent contractor.
Tackling employee misclassification
Classifying workers is not an exact science, and it is not always clear what type of worker someone is. This is particularly true in today’s work environments with flexible work arrangements.
Thus, conflicts and confusion are not unusual. Workers can assess their situations by asking themselves:
- What their duties actually are
- How much flexibility they have in accepting projects
- Whether the employer expects them to be on-call
- Whether they provide services exclusively for the employer
Based on this information, individuals can better understand what the proper classification should be. Consulting an attorney familiar with state and federal regulations can also provide clarity.
Misclassification is a troubling issue for Michigan workers. But workers have rights, and protecting those rights by filing a complaint or lawsuit can help workers get the compensation and benefits they deserve.