The gig economy is growing in Tennessee and across the country. Employers benefit from having contract workers who do not require insurance or other benefits. Gig workers gain the flexibility of the freelance life. However, more frequently, the gig economy is leading to wage and hour disputes as the definition of gig work become fuzzy.
While many working as freelancers understand their role as gig workers, some -- for example, those driving for Uber -- feel the companies they work for have intentionally misclassified them. By claiming workers are contractors, companies are relieved of providing unemployment or workers' compensation, as well as other benefits. Currently, there are millions of dollars in the balance as dozens of misclassification lawsuits make their way through the courts.
The federal government is working to clarify the differences among the kinds of employees. Independent contractors, for example, may claim employee status if they work for one company, or if the work they do is crucial to the operation of the company. Hourly workers are typically considered employees, as are those who work within the company's building. Those who work fewer than 1,000 hours annually for a specific company and who maintain control over their hours and work retain independent contractor status.
However, as new gig opportunities and platforms develop, the boundaries for types of employment may be tested. Meanwhile, Tennessee workers are wise to clarify with their employers whether they are hired as gig workers or employees. If wage and hour disputes arise due to misclassification, the help of an attorney is recommended.
Source: sandiegouniontribune.com, "Who are you, gig worker or employee?", Michelle V. Rafter, Sept. 3, 2017