Iowa Workers Outraged at Alleged Employee Misclassifications and Denied Workers’ Compensation Benefits
According to workers.org, construction workers in Iowa City are demanding justice for a number of labor violations allegedly committed by Rimax Contractors. The workers are complaining that their employer broke several state and federal laws by engaging in payroll fraud, failing to provide check stubs, making unlawful payroll deductions, unlawfully retaliating against workers, and intentionally misclassifying employees. While each of these alleged labor violations are quite serious, this article will analyze the last complaint, that Rimax Contractors was misclassifying its employees, and explain why workers may have been wrongfully denied workers’ compensation benefits if this allegation turns out to be true.
Workers Claim that They Were Wrongly Classified as Independent Contractors
The Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa (CWJ) recently hosted a press conference on behalf of Rimax Contractor’s outraged workers. During this conference the CWJ stated that some of the workers whom they represent were wrongly classified as independent contractors by their employer when they were in fact hired as hourly employees. While the distinction between an “independent contractor” and an “employee” may not initially seem very critical, these classifications are actually hugely important when talking about workers’ compensation because only employees can be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. In order to avoid paying injured employees the workers’ compensation benefits that they are legally entitled to, some unethical companies intentionally misclassify their employees as independent contractors. This is what Rimax Contractor’s upset workers are claiming their employer did.
Improperly Classified Workers May Have Missed Out on Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Under Iowa’s workers’ compensation system, almost all employees who sustain a work-related injury or illness are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. On the other hand, independent contractors are never entitled to workers’ compensation in Iowa. But who determines whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor? Many people mistakenly believe that the employer makes this determination, but this is not true. Employers in Iowa cannot avoid their legal obligation to provide a worker with workers’ compensation benefits simply by labeling the worker as an independent contractor rather than an employee. A worker’s legal classification in Iowa is properly determined on a case-by-case basis based on the degree of control the employer has over the worker, and the degree of independence the worker has from the employer. While there is a not a definitive list of factors that need to be weighed, courts often consider:
- Whether the worker supplies his or her on equipment,
- How the worker is paid,
- Whether the employer dictates when, where, and how the work must be performed, and
- Whether the work is temporary or permanent in nature.
Need Legal Advice?
If you’ve been injured by a work-related injury or illness in Iowa be aware that you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Do not make the mistake of assuming that you are an independent contractor and therefore not entitled to workers’ compensation without first consulting with a local worker’s compensation attorney. Here at the Noyes Law Office P.C. our experienced lawyers would be happy to sit down with you during a free no obligation consultation in order to discuss your legal options. Contact our Fairfield office today at (641) 472-3236.