Can your employer call you a contractor to deny you workers’ comp?

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2022 | Workers' Compensation

Employers have certain responsibilities to their workers. They have to pay them a wage in compliance with the law and the agreement the company has with employees. They need to adhere to proper safety practices and to actively avoid discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

There are direct costs to employing people as well. Employers pay taxes based on the value of workers’ labor and also provide insurance. Even if an employer doesn’t offer any benefits to individual workers, they still have an obligation to carry workers’ compensation insurance.

These policies protect employees from medical bills and lost wages if they get hurt on the job or develop a medical condition because of the work they perform. Some companies will try to deny an injured worker benefits by claiming they are actually an independent contractor. Is it legal to do that in Pennsylvania?

Misclassification is a known problem

When a company has a worker fill out a 1099 instead of a W-2 and then treats them like an employee, they have misclassified that worker. Misclassified workers are at a disadvantage in several regards. They don’t have unemployment insurance or workers’ compensation coverage. They have to pay all of the employment taxes for their work out of what they earn, rather than having employer contributions defray some of the expense.

All of these disadvantages for the worker are technically financial benefits for their employer, which is exactly why companies misclassify the workers that they hire. Unfortunately, workers may not understand the risks involved until after they get hurt and realize they can’t claim workers’ compensation benefits.

What can you do about misclassification?

If your employer has misclassified you but treats you like an employee, you may be able to go to court and get the benefits that you need. The company could also face penalties for the tax implications of their misclassification of workers.

Even though your claim may result in financial consequences for the business, you should not face retaliation from your employer for fighting back. You should receive the same treatment as anyone else, or their behavior might constitute illegal retaliation. Knowing your rights can help you get workers’ compensation benefits even in situations that are complex.