Independent contractors are not treated the same as employees. While independent contractors have more freedom in their work, they also lack some of the protections enjoyed by traditional employees, such as workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits. They are also responsible for paying their own taxes directly to the Internal Revenue Service from the first dollar since their taxes are not withheld. If you have a question as to whether you should work as an independent contractor or as an employee, contact an experienced employment law attorney today to discuss your situation.
As a hard-working employee, you are entitled to protection against having your legal rights trampled. Every day, you do the job you were hired to do. In return, you expect your employer, your employer’s insurers, and government agencies who are charged with protecting your rights, to do just that. You expect them to honor their responsibilities. You have the right to be protected from illegal employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, gender, age, race, national origin, religion, or disability. You have earned unemployment compensation when your termination merits it. Your COBRA benefits must be provided as guaranteed by law.
Our Milwaukee discrimination lawyers will analyze your sexual harassment complaint or other employment dispute to determine whether you have a case, and how to pursue it most effectively.
The following legal content is provided as a courtesy by way of background information. It is not intended to be particular to your case. If you are facing an uphill battle with an employment discrimination claim — such as a long term disability benefits claim that has been unfairly denied, contact us for relevant, up-to-date Wisconsin employment law information.
Employment Law for Employees – An Overview
Employment law covers the relationships between employers and their current, prospective and former employees. Both federal and state laws control various aspects of the employer-employee relationship, including each side’s rights and obligations. Because of the complexity of the employment relationship, this area of law involves issues as diverse as discrimination, record keeping, taxation and workplace safety.
There are also different types of employment relationships. Employment relationships can be based on a contract, or they can be “at-will.” If the employment relationship is based on a valid contract entered into by the employer and the employee, the terms of that contract will govern the relationship. By contrast, an at-will employment arrangement can be terminated at any time, with or without reason, by either the employer (as long as the reason does not constitute illegal discrimination) or the employee.
With all these factors to consider, it is clear why employment law is such a complex area. If you have an employment law concern, call today to schedule a consultation with an employment law attorney who can provide advice and representation in a range of workplace-related matters.
Independent contractors perform compensated work for businesses and individuals, but they are not considered to be employees. This non-employment relationship is based on an oral or written agreement between the business and the independent contractor. This contract may provide specific standards for the work product and establish the pay rate for that work. Businesses that hire independent contractors generally do not withhold federal or state income taxes or Social Security taxes from payments to independent contractors, and they do not maintain unemployment or workers’ compensation insurance for those workers. Most independent contractors, therefore, need to make their own quarterly tax payments.
Privacy Issues at Work
Technology is a boon to business, but it also raises complicated issues of privacy in the workplace. The vast majority of businesses use computers, and technology has enabled employers to monitor nearly every aspect of workplace communications involving employees’ computer and telephone usage. Indeed, many companies take advantage of technology to monitor their employees’ use of the Internet and email. When an employee has a reasonable expectation of privacy, however, such as with a physical space like a locked office, the employee may receive privacy protection. Drug testing by an employer, on the other hand, when the testing is reasonable and not a highly offensive intrusion, is usually acceptable.
Unions exist for the sole purpose of representing the interests of workers, especially in collective bargaining with employers. Collective bargaining is the process of negotiation between the employer and the labor union representatives to determine the key conditions of employment. The result of these efforts is the collective bargaining agreement. This collective bargaining agreement is a contract that is the starting place for resolving conflicts between the employer and its employees. Collective bargaining and union organization is governed by the federal National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
The Hiring Process
Applicants for employment positions have rights whether or not they become employees. Under federal law, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate in its hiring process based on race, national origin, gender, pregnancy, age, disability or religion. State and local laws may specify additional protected classes based on categories such as sexual orientation. Employers must abide by anti-discrimination laws at each stage of the hiring process, from placing the ad to interviewing and the final selection of the candidate. There are few exceptions to these rules, but an employer may discriminate on some bases if a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) exists. A BFOQ can be based on a reasonable and necessary job requirement, but this is a narrow exception.
Frequently Asked Questions About Employment Law
Q: What laws must employers follow when hiring new employees?
A: A prospective employer must avoid any illegal discrimination based on race, national origin, gender, pregnancy, age, disability or religion during the hiring process. Employers should also be sure to protect the privacy rights of applicants by protecting confidential or private information provided by the applicant and by disclosing to the applicant any background or credit checks that the employer wishes to perform. Employers are required to follow all applicable documentation rules regarding immigration and take care not to discriminate against applicants over 40 because of their age.
Q: Can employers monitor their employees’ Internet usage or read their emails?
A: The Supreme Court has found that employees have very limited rights to privacy in their employers’ computer systems. Employers may monitor Web sites visited by their employees and may block their employees from visiting certain Web sites. Employers can also limit employees’ Internet usage to business-related Web sites. If the employer has a company policy that its computer systems are to be used only for work-related activities, it may reprimand or punish an employee who used its equipment for personal purposes. Emails are considered to be company property if they are sent using the company email system, and many employers monitor or archive all incoming and outgoing emails sent through their systems.
Employment Law Resource Links
United States Department of Labor (DOL)
Information for workers, employers and unions.
Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
Information regarding enforcement of federal labor laws, including minimum wage; child labor and overtime standards set out under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA); the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA); and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA).
The Contract Employee’s Handbook
This resource contains information to assist independent contractors with management of their careers.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
The NLRB site provides background information on the functions and services of the National Labor Relations Board of interest to employers, employees and policymakers.
List of rights guaranteed to employees covered under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).