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Have you been wrongly classified as an exempt or nonexempt employee? You might be missing out on earned wages and benefits. A Kansas City employee misclassification lawyer can assist in rectifying your employment status and securing what you’re owed.

In most cases, “exempt” employees should not have similar job duties to “nonexempt” employees. In some cases, employers will classify employees as managers or exempt employees simply to avoid paying them overtime. 

At Holman Schiavone, LLC, we represent and advocate for employees in disputes over misclassification, and we are one of the leading law firms doing so in Missouri and Kansas. If you believe you have a claim, we will help you explore your legal options.

Call us in Kansas City at 816-399-5149 to speak with an experienced employment lawyer. Initial consultations are free.

Employee Misclassification: Exploring the Issue

Employee misclassification occurs when workers are wrongly classified as independent contractors instead of employees. This misclassification can lead to:

The consequences for employers who engage in this practice can be severe. Employers found guilty of misclassification can face significant legal consequences, including:

  • Tax liabilities
  • Labor law violations
  • Penalties for violating benefits and unemployment insurance laws
  • Possible litigation with significant financial ramifications.

Despite these potential consequences, some employers may still choose to misclassify employees to reduce labor costs, increase flexibility, or due to a lack of awareness about the legal outcomes of such actions.

The Difference Between Exempt and Non-Exempt Employees

If you have been classified as a manager, you rightly should expect to perform the duties of a manager — making decisions and overseeing the work of employees working under you. If you are classified as a manager and your primary duties consist of stocking shelves, ringing up cash registers, and similar tasks, you may have a misclassification claim.

Since managers can be classified as “exempt,” or not eligible for overtime, employers will give some employees the title of manager simply to avoid paying overtime. If you are an exempt employee being required to perform the duties of a nonexempt employee, our attorneys are here to stand up for your rights.

A clear understanding of the distinction between exempt and non-exempt employees is fundamental in the realm of wage and overtime disputes. An exempt employee is not subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) federal minimum wage and overtime pay requirements. They earn a regular salary, irrespective of the number of hours worked. To be classified as exempt under the FLSA, an employee must earn at least $684 per week or $35,568 annually, and their job duties must meet one of the specific exemption criteria related to minimum wages.

On the other hand, non-exempt employees are protected by FLSA provisions, ensuring they receive at least the minimum wage plus overtime pay for hours exceeding 40 in a workweek. For each hour worked over 40 in a single workweek, non-exempt employees must receive time and one-half their regular rate of pay. While non-exempt employees often benefit from their entitlement to overtime pay, they may receive a lower base pay rate and have less expansive job responsibilities compared to exempt employees.

Independent Contractors vs. Employees

Understanding what constitutes an employee becomes even more difficult when considering the differences between independent contractors and employees. 

Here are some key distinctions:

  • Independent contractors often work for multiple clients and control their own businesses, whereas employees usually work for one employer who dictates their work and hours.
  • Independent contractors bring specialized expertise to a project and do not typically require training from the client.
  • Employees might perform a variety of tasks and receive training.

Compensation is another area where these two categories differ. Here are some key differences:

  • An independent contractor’s compensation comes from submitted invoices with varying pay rates, unlike an employee who earns a consistent salary.
  • Independent contractors set their own work hours and methods, using their own tools and equipment, which is not the case for employees who follow their employer’s schedules and procedures.
  • Independent contractors handle tax obligations for subcontractors and additional workers, unlike employee tax arrangements handled by the employer.

Bear in mind that the genuine employment status of a worker hinges on state employment law and the individual’s job responsibilities, not merely the wording of the employment contract.

Identifying Signs of Employee Misclassification

While spotting the indicators of employee misclassification may prove difficult, it is a vital stride towards regaining your rights. If you suspect misclassification, start by closely reviewing your employment situation. Review your employment contract and gather evidence of your employment status. This can include your job description, the amount of control your employer has over your work, and how your earnings are calculated.

Once you’ve gathered all the necessary information, you can seek legal recourse. This may involve contacting a labor law attorney such as Holman Schiavone Law, LLC, filing a complaint with the Department of Labor, or considering a private lawsuit.

Remember, your fight against misclassification is not just about you. It’s about standing up for the rights of all hard-working employees and fostering an environment of dignity and fairness in the workplace.

Job Duties and Salary Mismatch

A disparity between your job responsibilities and salary can serve as a potent sign of misclassification. For instance, construction workers misclassified as independent contractors can lose up to $16,729 annually in income and job benefits compared to their entitled earnings as employees. Similarly, home health aides misclassified as independent contractors could forfeit up to $9,529 annually in income and job benefits compared to their potential earnings as employees.

Other occupations vulnerable to misclassification include:

  • Landscaping
  • Truck Driving
  • Janitorial services
  • Nail salons

Misclassification often results in significantly lower median annual earnings. The Economic Policy Institute reports that misclassification can lead to workers in 11 vulnerable occupations losing between $4,558 to $18,053 per year in income and benefits.

It’s also worth noting that permanent working relationships outside of a temporary or specific project framework may indicate misalignment of job duties and salary due to misclassification.

Denied Overtime Pay and Benefits

Being denied overtime pay and benefits also hints at potential misclassification. Independent contractors must provide their own benefits and are not eligible for legal protections such as unemployment and Workers’ Compensation that employees receive. This indicates the lack of overtime pay and benefits under misclassification.

If you have been denied overtime pay due to misclassification, you may be entitled to recover damages. Employees who were not paid the minimum wage or overtime pay to which they were entitled can recover these amounts for up to two years prior to filing a lawsuit. Wage and hour attorneys can advocate for fair compensation, holding employers accountable for practices like wage theft and misclassifying employees.

Legal Remedies for Misclassified Employees

Don’t feel helpless if you’re a misclassified employee. You have access to numerous legal solutions. You can file a wage and hour lawsuit to recover unpaid wages, unpaid overtime, payments for missed meal or rest breaks, interest on unpaid wages, and attorneys’ fees. If you’re a misclassified exempt worker, federal law allows you to claim liquidated damages, potentially doubling the amount of unpaid wages due.

A lawsuit can also help you recover overtime wages and additional damages if you’ve been deprived of overtime pay due to misclassification. The U.S. Department of Labor can enforce a consent judgment against employers that deny overtime due to misclassification, requiring them to provide compensation for the unpaid overtime. Guilty employers may also have to pay back wages, fines, unpaid taxes, and provide the denied retroactive benefits.

If an employer intentionally misclassifies an individual as an independent contractor, they can face civil penalties ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 per violation in certain states. Please be aware that legal regulations including potential dollar amounts may change over time. For the most current and accurate information, consult with a legal professional to ensure accuracy in your specific situation.

Filing a Complaint with State or Federal Agencies

One avenue to pursue justice is by filing a complaint with the appropriate government bodies. Misclassified workers have the right to file these complaints, challenging their classification and seeking rightful compensation. It’s important to note that the job classification detailed in the employees’ contracts does not alone establish their correct classification. Legal criteria and actual employment practices are considered for determining proper job classification.

When employees file a complaint for being improperly compensated, such as under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Department of Labor is one of the entities that may handle these complaints. Although this process can be intricate, it’s a critical step in holding employers accountable and ensuring that employees receive the pay and benefits they’re entitled to.

Pursuing a Lawsuit Against Your Employer

Another method to claim unpaid wages, benefits, and damages due to misclassification is by initiating a lawsuit against your employer. Employers may face lawsuits seeking compensation for various wage disputes, such as:

If your employer willfully deprived you of overtime pay, you may be eligible for back pay for up to three years. Make sure to evaluate your eligibility for this compensation. If you find that you, along with other workers, have been misclassified in a similar situation, you can pursue a class action lawsuit. This collective action can have a significant impact, compelling employers to reconsider their practices and comply with overtime law and other employment laws.

The Importance of Hiring an Experienced Employment Lawyer

Dealing with the intricate regulations of wage and hour laws can be daunting. This is where the experience of a seasoned employment lawyer comes into play. These legal professionals provide essential advice on legal rights and obligations, helping you understand the nuances of employment matters. Having an employment attorney involved from the beginning of the employment relationship ensures that an advocate is actively protecting your legal rights.

Experienced employment lawyers, with their comprehensive knowledge of the law and legal system, are instrumental in securing the most favorable outcomes in wage dispute cases. They can effectively challenge misclassification, helping you recover unpaid wages and benefits, as well as ensuring your rights to pay wages are protected.

Advocating for Your Rights

The role of an employment lawyer includes:

  • Offering legal counsel
  • Advocating for your rights
  • Representing you in negotiations, administrative hearings, and court proceedings
  • Securing just compensation or remedies for grievances
  • Ensuring that workers are treated fairly
  • Fostering an environment of dignity, respect, and fairness.

If you feel that you are being exploited, it is important to consider consulting with a legal representative to protect your rights and seek potential remedies. Having a dedicated attorney offers strategic benefits in legal disputes. They can provide a collective voice for employees, tackling company-wide labor practices. By representing employees from various sectors, they ensure broad legal protection against wage and hour infractions.

Choosing the Right Kansas City Employee Misclassification Lawyer

Your path to justice begins with selecting an appropriate employee misclassification lawyer in Kansas City. Selecting a lawyer with experience in handling misclassification claims is crucial when seeking representation in Kansas City. You want a lawyer who will represent your best interests, fight for your rights, and guide you through the legal process with competence and compassion, ensuring you receive the Kansas City wage you deserve.

Reputation and Track Record

As you select a lawyer, their reputation and past performance should be key considerations. An employment lawyer with a proven track record should have:

  • Successfully resolving claims for misclassified workers
  • Recovering owed wages and benefits
  • Recognized for their successful trial results
  • The ability to prevent class certification
  • Win summary judgments in wage and hour class action claims

This demonstrates their experience and knowledge in employee misclassification cases.

Personalized Legal Representation

Beyond just reputation and track record, the provision of personalized legal representation should also be taken into account when selecting a lawyer. Personalized legal representation in employee misclassification cases starts with a lawyer’s in-depth understanding of wage and hour laws.

An effective lawyer will:

  • Gather evidence tailored to your individual case to build a strong argument
  • Aim to achieve a resolution that aligns with your unique circumstances and rights
  • Ensure you receive the compensation and justice you deserve.

How Holman Schiavone Law, LLC Can Help You

At Holman Schiavone Law, LLC, our commitment is to ardently defend the rights of employees. Our experienced employment lawyers provide personalized legal representation, guiding you through complex wage and hour laws, advocating for your rights, and helping you recover the compensation you’re entitled to. We understand that employee misclassification can have severe consequences, and we’re here to help you fight for your rights.

If you suspect you’ve been misclassified, don’t hesitate to seek our assistance. We’re ready to evaluate your case, provide legal advice, and represent you in pursuing your claims. Please call us at 816-399-5149 or email us to speak with an experienced employment law attorney in Kansas City. We will also represent your case in a retaliation claim if your employer retaliates in any way against your employee misclassification claim.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is employee misclassification?

Employee misclassification happens when a worker is incorrectly labeled as an independent contractor instead of an employee, resulting in the denial of various legal protections and benefits.

Are there state-based consequences for misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor for employers?

Misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor can result in routine audits of classification practices and penalties for violating state workers’ compensation insurance laws, as well as liability for unpaid workers’ compensation premiums.

What is the Fair Labor Standards Act in Missouri?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) mandates that employers in Missouri pay overtime at one and a half times the regular rate for hours worked over 40 in a workweek unless the employee is classified as exempt. It also sets the federal standard for minimum wage and covers various labor issues including child labor, equal pay, and compensable time for travel.

What is the Missouri Minimum Wage Law?

The Missouri Minimum Wage Law enforces the minimum hourly wage that an employer must pay to employees in Missouri, which may differ from the federal minimum wage, and is subject to annual adjustments based on cost of living changes.

What is the Missouri Equal Pay Act?

The Missouri Equal Pay Act requires employers to provide equal pay for men and women performing the same work under similar working conditions unless such payment is made pursuant to a seniority system, a merit system, or a system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production.