The Importance of Knowing Workers’ Rights

American FlagAn article in the American Prospect from from Rutgers University Professor David Bensman highlights a disturbing trend in which the American worker is denied their legal rights and benefits because of a shift in the category of employment. This phenomenon of shifting workers to contingent employment, and incorrectly classifying their employment, means that workers are not attaining guaranteed benefits such as workers’ compensation.

In 2010, Senate testimony by the Deputy Secretary of Labor Seth Harris declared that a lot of the worker misclassification is intentional, so that companies can save money by not making required contributions to workers’ compensations funds and unemployment insurance. This is not only harmful to American workers, but to the economy as well because it reduces funds that should be available to the government.

The Results of Misclassification

The misclassification of workers is particularly egregious in certain sectors. The article details how the port trucking and construction industries have become victim to the miscategorization of employees. As a result of these practices, surveys concerning the port trucking industry showed that more than 80 percent of drivers were incorrectly classified, allowing for their companies to pay them less and withhold benefits. In New York, a study found that nearly 15 percent of workers in the construction sector had been incorrectly labeled as independent contractors. As a result, workers who suffered injuries in these dangerous professions were denied their guaranteed benefits.

Why is this article important?

If you are a worker who is miscategorized as an independent contractor, you may believe that you do not have a claim for workers’ compensation. However, that may not be accurate. If you are injured in an accident while working, regardless of your worker classification, your first measure should be to contact an attorney. An attorney can help you determine what options are possible for your claim.

Per regulations provided by the Massachusetts government, the categorization of an employee versus that of an independent contractor is complicated and determined on a case-by-case basis. An attorney can help you decipher whether you have a valid claim for employee benefits.

An attorney will take you through the legal minutiae between an independent contractor and an employee, so that you will know whether you should receive workers’ compensation for your injuries. Even if you signed a contract asserting that you were an independent contractor rather than an employee, if you can show that the work that you did was more akin to that of an employee, you may still have time to obtain justly deserved benefits. As the article mentioned, there seems to be an intentional desire to misrepresent the categories of workers in order to save money. Do not let your ignorance allow a company to take advantage of you and keep you from obtaining your legally guaranteed benefits.

Contact an Attorney Immediately

The Sheehan Law Firm has a strong reputation in the field of workers compensation. We are experienced and persistent, and will do everything possible to help you win your claim. If you have been injured while working, regardless of your status as an employee or an independent contractor, your first step should be to contact John J. Sheehan.

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