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Am I an Employee or an Independent Contractor?


With more and more people having ongoing yet temporary work with organizations, it can lead to individuals wondering if they are independent contractors or an employee. These classifications matter. They impact your benefit eligibility, your compensation or pay, taxes, and more.

The nature of your relationship with your employer can change over time, too. Even if you start with an organization as an independent contractor, if the nature of the work shifts your classification might need to shift, too. If you have questions about your Ohio job, talk to a Columbus employment attorney and learn your worker rights.

Why Does It Matter If I’m an Employee or Not?

There are important reasons to be clear on your relationship with an organization, whether you are an independent contractor or an employee. Misclassification can lead to legal disputes. One reason is because of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

A federal law, the FLSA was drafted in 1932 and passed in 1938. It establishes the following:

  • Minimum wage
  • Overtime pay eligibility
  • Child labor standards
  • Shields workers from unfair practices
  • Defines exempt and nonexempt employees

In order for a person to be protected by the FLSA (or have the rights that it creates), they must be an employee. An independent contractor is not entitled to any protections under the FLSA. Plus, employees are typically entitled to benefits from the organization itself as well, including unemployment benefits, health insurance, and leave.

Employer Control of an Employee’s Work

One of the things considered when determining if an independent contractor has been misclassified is the degree in which an employer has control over how the work performed. So, for example, if an employer has control over a person’s schedule, their day-to-day performance, is managing how the work is being done, and evaluating the work each step of the way (among other variables), that person is likely an employee. Particularly if the work is not in a set timeframe.

In most instances, independent contractors have far more freedom and power to dictate the terms and conditions of how they complete their work. They are autonomous. Independent contractors have the freedom to set their hours and negotiate their own contracts, among other things.

Employees are eligible for unemployment and workers’ compensation. There are protections for employees not available to freelancers.

Do you believe you have been misclassified by an Ohio employer? A Columbus employment attorney can help you to determine if that is true and what you can do to protect yourself for misclassification. To understand FLSA and your rights, you need an experience wage and hour attorney lawyer.

Talk to an Ohio Labor Lawyer Today

The attorneys at Coffman Legal LLC are committed to protecting the rights of Ohio workers. Misclassification is not unique, it happens consistently throughout the workforce. An Ohio labor lawyer can help. Call 614-949-1181 for a free and confidential consultation.


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