Federal court case could impact employee classification

In September, a federal court case began that could have far-reaching implications on employee classification for independent contractors. The result could affect similar cases in Indiana and across the country.

The case involves a man who worked as a food delivery driver for GrubHub. The man provided delivery services for the company for a period of five months in 2015 and 2016. In his lawsuit, he argues that he is owed overtime pay and reimbursement for business expenses because he was misclassified as an independent contractor rather than an employee of the company. Independent contractors are responsible for their own hours and cannot generally collect overtime or extra money for business expenses. The distinction between the two is sometimes a matter of debate. That distinction often comes down to the level of autonomy workers have in dictating how they conduct business.

The company argued that its service merely connects customers with delivery drivers, so it is not hiring the delivery drivers directly. The company also argued that the driver set his own hours and had control over the packaging he used for deliveries. Since the company did not have control over either factor of his business, he was operating independently from them and so should be classified as an independent contractor and not an employee.

As the lines between traditional employees, flexible employees and independent contractors become more blurred, experts believe problems with employee classification will continue to be an issue. People who are denied overtime pay or other perks of traditional employees because the company misclassifies them may wish to meet with an experienced employment law attorney to see what remedies might be available.

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