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One of our main specialities has been litigation challenging employers’ misclassification of employees as independent contractors. We have brought cases around the country that have affected a number of industries, including transportation, trucking, cleaning, cable installation, and adult entertainment. More recently, we have been at the forefront of challenging so-called “on demand” companies in the new “sharing economy” for shortchanging workers through misclassification, including Uber, Postmates, Handy, GrubHub, and others.
Companies that misclassify their workers as independent contractors save on labor costs by avoiding the obligations of employment. Their workers are deprived of many benefits including protection under the wage laws, overtime, minimum wage, expense reimbursements, as well as other employee benefits. Misclassified employees also do not receive unemployment when they lose their jobs and workers’ compensation when they are injured on the job. These companies compete unfairly with law-abiding companies that provide their workers employment protections and benefits.
Bad Gig: the costs of being an independent contractor
Life of the Law | September, 2016
If you have been classified as an independent contractor and believe you may have been misclassified, please contact us for a consultation.
The following categories describe examples of the misclassification cases we have litigated.
Over the last several years, a new breed of companies has flourished, which claim to be technology companies linking consumers with small independent businesses. Unfortunately, many of these companies are simply taking advantage of workers who are actually employees and depriving them of their rights under the wage laws. Our case on behalf of Uber drivers—which seeks reimbursement of expenses and unpaid tips—has been certified as a class action in California. Many companies are taking notice of the cases we have brought and are changing their practices and reclassifying their workers as employees.
For more than 10 years, beginning with our work on the cases against FedEx Ground, we have brought lawsuits in many states, on behalf of package, appliance, and furniture delivery drivers, who contract with large delivery companies, to deliver goods and furnishings to homes and businesses. Although these drivers often work full time for these companies, often as much as 12 hours a day, six days a week, and must purchase or lease their trucks, they are labeled as independent contractors and thereby miss out on all of the protections employees have. We currently have such cases pending in Massachusetts, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
Beginning with our pioneering work in Massachusetts establishing exotic dancers as employees, we have brought a number of lawsuits around the country on behalf of exotic dancers to recover back wages and tips. Strip clubs have long classified dancers as independent contractors. By doing this, the clubs have illegally required dancers to pay to work, by requiring them to pay shift fees, and to share their tips with management and non-service employees. We have recovered these fees for dancers, as well as full minimum wage for all hours worked. We currently have cases pending on behalf of exotic dancers in Massachusetts, California, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Nevada.
We have recently filed lawsuits against a number of marketing and customer service outsourcing companies who purport to treat their marketing and customer service reps as independent contractors, paying them by commissions or piece rate, and failing to pay any overtime or training. These companies also require the workers to pay for their own expenses. There have been a number of court rulings finding such arrangements to violate federal and state wage and hour law, because these workers are really employees subject to the protections of the wage and hour laws.
Over the past 10 years, we have brought cases against a number of so-called “cleaning franchise” companies that have preyed on immigrant workers by charging thousands of dollars for low-paying cleaning jobs. These companies frequently churn cleaning accounts to make a profit. In a number of our cases, the courts have ruled that the franchisees are actually employees entitled to the protections of the wage laws. Several years ago, in our case against Coverall, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued a landmark ruling that these franchisees, because of their misclassification, may recover as damages the fees they paid for their franchises, as well as fees paid for additional business and for insurance. The court held that these fees essentially require the workers to “pay for their job” in violation of state wage law.
We have successfully brought class action cases around the country on behalf of cable TV and satellite TV installation and repair technicians, who have been wrongfully classified as independent contractors and therefore denied lawful overtime, as well as being subject to unlawful deductions from their pay. We have brought such cases in the states of Florida, Michigan, Illinois, South Carolina, and Massachusetts.
Unfortunately, independent contractor misclassification spans many industries. We are investigating allegations of independent contractor misclassification in a variety of fields, and we have a case now pending against Harvard University for misclassifying workers as independent contractors. If you have worked anywhere in the country in any industry and believe you have been misclassified, please contact us to discuss your options.
Shannon Liss-Riordan Sues Harvard on Behalf of Massage Therapists
JDJournal | January, 2016
Massage Therapist Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Harvard
The Harvard Crimson | January, 2016
Lichten & Liss-Riordan is a plaintiffs’-side employment and union-side labor law firm, whose attorneys have achieved national recognition for their work representing employees and unions in wage and hour, discrimination, and other employment-related litigation. We have tried many cases before juries and judges in federal and state courts, and we pride ourselves on our innovative and creative approaches to advancing workers’ rights.
Lichten & Liss-Riordan attorneys have successfully argued many cases before trial and appellate courts, federal and state administrative agencies and at arbitration and have frequently achieved substantial verdicts for their clients. Our attorneys have won landmark cases in the labor and employment area and have had a number of million dollar plus verdicts and settlements in recent years.