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Stop Misclassification of Workers as Independent Contractors

Workplace Standards for Domestic Workers: Breakthrough NY Legislation Approved

On June 1, the New York Senate put the state in position to be first in the nation to enact a Domestic Workers' Rights law (S2311) by a vote of 33-28. The New York Assembly led the way in June 2009 when it passed its own version of the bill (A1470). This groundbreaking legislation will extend core labor rights, from fair labor standards to paid sick days, to creating a framework for collective bargaining, to domestic workers. This will include those employed to work in a private home to perform housekeeping and/or to care for children, the infirm, or the elderly.

Promoting Wage Law Enforcement Policies in 2010

Progressive States Network will be working with state leaders around the country to promote policies to improve enforcement of minimum wage, overtime and related wage laws in the states.  This Dispatch will highlight the chronic wage violations in the workplace, model wage law enforcement language for states to promote, messaging to support those campaigns, and specific ways such an approach has the added benefit of undercutting anti-immigrant attacks in the states.

Delaware Stands Up for Misclassified Workers

Delaware’s legislature passed the Workplace Fraud Act (HB 230), an employee misclassification bill that increases penalties for construction employers who knowingly misclassify employees as contractors in order to evade state and federal taxes and wage and hour laws, saving as much as 30% on the margins.

Protecting Workers Rights by Stopping Misclassification as Independent Contractors in Maryland

Earlier this month, the Maryland legislature joined a number of states in cracking down on worker misclassification by enacting the Maryland Workplace Fraud Act (S 909 / H 819 ) which has the support of Gov. O'Malley who is expected to sign the bill shortly.  The main focus of the bill was stopping the misclassification of workers as "independent contractors" used by employers to deny them a minimum wage, overtime and key workplace benefits.

Overview

States are also increasingly targeting the employer tactic of misclassifying employees as "independent contractors," which excludes workers from minimum wage, prevailing wage, overtime, health and safety, and right to organize protections.  Because of these problems, cracking down on misclassification of independent contractors is becoming a priority for many states:

  • In 2007, Minnesota and Colorado both enacted new laws cracking down on misclassification of employees as "independent contractors" to evade state wage laws.
  • In 2008, legislatures in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New HampshireNew York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin all introduced new laws to crack down on employers misclassifying employees as independent contractors to evade wage laws.
  • In 2008, Utah, SB 159 makes it fraud to misclassify an employee to avoid the obligation to obtain workers' compensation insurance coverage, and SB 189 establishes a council to study how to reduce costs resulting from the misclassification of workers.
  • The New York Attorney General's office has aggressively pursued wage claims against joint employers, including against large supermarket and drugstore chains for unpaid wages due to delivery workers misclassified as independent contractors.  
  • Connecticut's 2007 law, Pub. Act. No. 07-89, provides that employers who misrepresent the number or type of their employees for purposes of the workers' compensation system, can be issued a stop work order and ordered to pay a fine of up to $1,000.  In 2008, Connecticut HB 5113 and SB 454 established a commission to review the problem of employer misclassification for purposes of avoiding obligations under state and federal labor, employment, and tax laws.

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New PSN Report: The Anti-Immigrant Movement that Failed

Today, the Progressive States Network is releasing a new report: The Anti-Immigrant Movement that Failed: Positive Integration Policies by States Still Far Outweigh Punitive Policies Aimed at New Immigrants.   The Executive Summary is available online, as well as the full report in PDF and HTML format.

State Immigration Project: Policy Options for 2009

Download a copy of the reports in PDF format here.  View the HTML version of the report here.