Can Misclassified Independent Contractors Sue Their Employers?

Many companies in Florida classify their workers as independent contractors to avoid various employment laws and liability for certain legal issues. In this blog, we explain if misclassified independent contractors can sue their employers?

Many companies in Florida classify their workers as independent contractors to avoid various liability for certain employment legal issues. Classification laws for employees in the state of Florida are complex, and by misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor, an employer can save money on healthcare costs, workers' compensation insurance, and taxes.

Although the employer benefits when they misclassify a worker’s employment status, the employee loses out on crucial protections that ensure they are paid for all of their work and are protected from workplace discrimination and harassment.

What Determines If an Employee Is an Independent Contractor?

Courts in Florida look at the following things to determine if an employee should be considered an independent contractor:

  • How much control the employer exercises over the worker
  • The specific skill set of the worker
  • The length of the working relationship
  • How much the worker has invested in facilities

Generally, a worker is an independent contractor if their employer can only control the final product of their work. A worker is considered an employee if the employer can directly control how the work will be done. 

Two recent lawsuits against Uber and FedEx demonstrate the complexity of Florida’s employment laws.

Uber Lawsuit

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity ruled that an Uber driver who was involved in an accident after he turned off his app to pick up passengers should be classified as an employee, making him eligible to collect unemployment insurance.

According to the driver’s lawsuit, Uber’s drivers "are required to follow a litany of detailed requirements imposed on them by Uber." Therefore, the driver’s duty to pick up passengers qualified him as an employee.

Other rideshare services, like Lyft, have also been sued over the employment status of their drivers.

FedEx Lawsuit

FedEx drivers are suing the company after the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court decision. This new ruling allowed FedEx drivers to have their class-action lawsuit tried before a jury to determine if the employees can be classified as independent contractors.

In its decision, the 11th Circuit said that the FedEx Operating Agreement and FedEx's standard practices “created a genuine question of fact under Florida law as to whether drivers were employees or independent contractors.” Much like Uber drivers, FedEx drivers also have to adhere to a detailed list of procedures and requirements, even though the company has classified them as independent contractors.

    Has your employer misclassified your employment status? Do you think you are being paid wrong or unfair wages? Then call (800) 219-1324 to schedule your free consultation with our employment law attorneys to get help with your case. We are dedicated to protecting your labor rights.

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