Employers often misclassify employees as independent contractors to save on payroll expenses and workers’ compensation claims. But if you’ve had your workers’ comp claim denied because your employer insists you’re a contractor, you should know that your employer doesn’t get the last word on this issue. Calling you a contractor is meaningless if the facts support a finding that you are an employee under Florida law.
Employers only have to provide workers’ compensation benefits for employees. But if a business wants to call a worker a contractor, Florida law has pretty strict and detailed standards the business must meet. First, the situation must meet at least four of the following six criteria:
But, even if the situation doesn’t satisfy four of these criteria, the worker could still be a contractor if any of these circumstances exist:
If the employer can prove the facts of your circumstances fit these criteria, you’re a contractor and you are not eligible for workers’ compensation. However, if the boss gives you supplies to do the job, oversees your work, pays you at regular intervals rather than upon completion of a project, and pays you the same rate regardless of the scope of the project, a court could find that you are an employee, fully eligible for workers’ comp.
Now, will an employer fight you tooth and nail in court over this issue? In many cases, the employer wants no part of court, because if he loses your case, the Internal Revenue Service will want to know how many other “contractors” are working at the business, and how much unpaid FICA tax the employer is liable for. Willful failure to pay FICA is a felony, punishable by a fine of $10,000 and up to five years in prison. An experienced workers’ comp attorney can be a great help in resolving this type of conflict in a timely manner, so you can access the benefits you deserve.
Vassallo, Bilotta & Davis helps injured clients in Florida appeal denials of workers’ compensation claims. Please call 561-471-2800 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation at one of our offices, located in West Palm Beach and Stuart.