Real “employee” versus “independent contractor.” How much difference does it make? The answer is that it can mean a great deal, as Massachusetts employers keenly recognize in seeking to classify more workers as independent contractors rather than employees these days, in an effort to limit their own responsibilities.
Regular employees get overtime. Independent contractors, by contrast, do not. Employees get unemployment insurance and-importantly-workers’ compensation benefits. Independent contractors do not. As such, how you are classified can me a whole lot in the case of an accident on the job or an injury that prevents you from working.
Recently, Boston taxi drivers have taken a stand against a change in their classification. According to the Boston Globe (quoting Catherine Ruckelhaus),
Taxidrivers in many cities, including Boston, at one time were classified as employees by cab companies. But operators began shifting to a contractor model – Boston switched during the 1970s – which can reduce payroll costs for items such as workers’ compensation by almost one-third[.]
Two Boston cab drivers have sued the City of Boston and private taxi cab operators in Suffolk Superior Court in hopes of a class-action suit on behalf of hundreds of Boston cab drivers. The cab drivers are upset at being classified as independent contractors, failing to be paid minimum wages and overtime, and being forced to pay job-related expenses. This suit, if successful, could dramatically change the landscape for cab drivers in a positive direction.
If you are an independent contractor in Boston and are unclear about your rights, or if you are unclear about your status as an IC or an employee, contact a Boston workers’ compensation lawyer to help answer your questions.
Boston cabdrivers sue city and fleet owners, Boston.com, March 6, 2012