As an independent contractor, you face a unique set of challenges regarding wage and hour issues. Many employees are misclassified as independent contractors so employers can avoid paying overtime and benefits. Additionally, employers have a legal obligation to abide by their employment contracts’ wage and hour provisions with independent contractors. When employers breach these agreements, employees can pursue compensation.
Contact an Independent Contractor Attorney in NYC
If you are an independent contractor and you believe you haven’t been paid adequately, the attorneys at Woods Lonergan PLLC are here to help. We have an in-depth understanding of independent contractor wage and hour issues. Our attorneys have successfully represented employees and employers in wage and hour issues for independent contractors. Contact Woods Lonergan today to schedule your initial consultation.
Have You Been Wrongly Classified as an Independent Contractor?
If you’re an independent contractor, it’s important to understand your rights under New York wage and hour laws. New York has some of the most protective laws for independent contractors. As businesses try to cut costs while maintaining profitability, they may attempt to label employees as independent contractors to save money.
Many businesses have been caught misclassifying, cheating, and otherwise abusing independent contractors for their gain. For example, suppose you’ve been wrongly paid on a 1099 and incorrectly classified as an independent contractor. In that case, you may have a claim for back pay, missed employment benefits, and additional damages against your employer.
Am I Entitled to Overtime Pay As an Independent Contractor?
Under New York’s wage and hour laws, employers are entitled to overtime pay in the amount of one and a half of their normal pay rate for every hour they work over 40 hours in one workweek. Independent contractors are not entitled to overtime unless their contract with the employer explicitly requires overtime pay. For example, an employer may agree to hire a worker as an independent contractor for a particular job and agree to pay the worker additional compensation for working over 40 hours. As mentioned above, many independent contractors are misclassified.
Unless it’s explicitly stated in the contract between the independent contractor and the employer, the contractor isn’t entitled to a pay rate of time and a half for overtime hours. Unfortunately, this leads to many independent contractors being paid minimum wage or less for the hours they have to work in addition to their typical 40-hour workweek. If you have worked overtime as an independent contractor without overtime pay and suspect you’ve been misclassified, we recommend reaching out to Woods Lonergan.
Contracts Worth $800 or More Must Be in Writing
Not all independent contractors are misclassified. Some workers truly are independent contractors. As an independent contractor, you aren’t protected by all of the same wage and hour laws as employees, but that doesn’t mean you can’t protect yourself legally. Independent contractors can draft contracts and ask employers to sign the agreement before they begin conducting work for them.
New York recently passed a regulation requiring all contracts with independent contractors to be in writing. In other words, when an independent contractor will earn $800 or more in any 120-day period, the contract between the employer and employee must be in writing. The contract must state the pay rate for the work and the work that you must perform. Both parties are required to keep a copy of the written contract.
Protect Yourself with a Well-Written Contract
We also offer contract drafting services for independent contractors. Drafting a valid contract will clear up expectations for you and the business or person employing you. It will also specify exactly how and when you will be paid for your services. You can also include an agreed-upon process for resolving any disputes that arise regarding wage and hour issues.
As an independent contractor, you can require your employer to pay you a specific amount for any overtime that you may work. Doing so can ensure you’re paid adequately if you work hourly. Many independent contractors are paid on a flat rate basis. If you’ve completed a job successfully and your client is refusing to pay you, you may have a valid legal claim for breach of contract. It’s important to reach out to an employment attorney as soon as possible.
Independent Contractors Are Entitled to Timely Payment
Under New York City’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act, as an independent contractor, you are entitled to be paid for all of your completed work. You must receive payment on or before the date specified on the contract. When the contract doesn’t include a specific payment date, the hiring party must pay the contract within 30 days of completion of the work.
Freedom from Retaliation for Enforcing Your Right to Be Paid
Employers cannot penalize, threaten to blacklist, or otherwise try to deter workers from exercising their rights under the Freelance Isn’t Free Act. Independent contractors have the right to file a complaint with the Office of Labor Policy and Standards for Workers (OLPS). In some cases, employers will begin retaliating against independent contractors for filing a wage and hours complaint. An employer may terminate the contract or refuse to pay the contractor for filing a complaint. Retaliation for a valid claim is unlawful in New York City. If you’re an independent contractor and have experienced retaliation, you may have a right to damages.
Reach Out to an NYC Independent Contractor Attorney
As a comprehensive employment law firm, the attorneys at Woods Lonergan understand the complexities of the employer-employee relationship. If you have been wrongly classified as an independent contractor, denied overtime pay, or subjected to another wage and hour violation, you need an experienced attorney on your side. Our skilled employment attorneys represent employees and employers in a wide range of wage and hour issues. Contact Woods Lonergan today to schedule your initial consultation and learn more about your legal rights.