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Thousands of California workers misclassified as contractors

It can be difficult enough to get by without suffering a loss of wages. Unfortunately, many workers go unpaid, or are not paid enough for their jobs. Others are expected to work overtime for which they then may not be compensated. Sometimes, problems with wages or working hours can be the result of a simple misunderstanding or miscommunication, so it is important to know your rights.

In California, over 4,000 contractors have been involved in a class-action lawsuit against a company they allege misclassified them. The home-improvement store labeled them independent contractors, but the workers feel the company exercised enough control over them to classify them as employees.

The reason this is so important is that it affects wages, benefits and protections to which the workers might otherwise be entitled. Improperly classifying workers can lead to companies being penalized for violations of wage-and-hour laws. They may also be found to be in breach of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The contractors won their case after indicating that they had been expected to attend store training and even wear company shirts and hats. The company has agreed to pay them up to $6.5 million, plus a further 25 percent in attorneys' fees. The final sum will depend on the number of claims and the damages proven by them.

Other workers can learn from this example. Challenging unfair treatment by your employer can really pay off. No one should have to suffer mistreatment in their place of work and those responsible should be held to account. An attorney can help you build your case and work toward receiving the compensation you deserve.

Source: JDSupra, "Store to Pay Up to $6.5 Million for Misclassifying Workers," Tiffany Robertson, July 30, 2014

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