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How Companies Benefit from Calling You an Independent Contractor

Should You Have Employee Status? There are upsides to being an independent contractor. You have more freedom than a salaried employee—that is, when it comes to what you’re paid, when you work, and how you do your job, you’re the one who sets the terms.    But you’re also not entitled to certain benefits. Companies get a lot out of misclassifying employees as “independent contractors” while treating them like salaried employees. In some cases, this may be unlawful—and it can rob you of key workplace protections. Here’s an overview of reasons why employers deliberately misclassify their employees—and how to tell if they’re doing it to you. It Costs Them Less to Call You a Contractor Full-time employees don’t just pull in a salary. They may also get overtime and unemployment compensation, employer-sponsored health care, family and medical leave, paid time off, retirement plans, and other benefits. Those benefits are expensive—but if the employer calls you a contractor, they don’t have to pay for any of it. You take on the responsibility, expense, and risk of paying for your own time off, retirement, and healthcare. The company just has to pay your wage. They Don’t Have to Watch out for Your [...]

By | 2019-04-02T20:30:02+00:00 March 5th, 2019|Employment Agreements|0 Comments

How Do You Request Accommodation Under the ADA?

There are no formal procedures, but there are things you should know Perhaps you’ve suffered an illness or injury. If so, like many other Americans, one day you may need to request accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the ADA, employers with 15 or more employees—as well as government institutions—are required to provide reasonable accommodation to employees with disabilities so they can perform their jobs. See Also: What is Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADA? If you ever find yourself in this situation, here are a few tips for making the request. You don’t need to use specific phrases. To request an accommodation, all you need to do is tell your employer in plain language. There’s no need to use specific wording like “reasonable accommodation” or bring up the ADA, so if you’ve already made a request using general language, that’s OK. Generally, the best way to do it is to inform your employer of the problem you’re having, and connect it to your medical condition. For instance: “I’m having trouble making it to work at 8 in the morning because of my physical therapy.” “I need three weeks off to recuperate from surgery.” “My wheelchair can’t fit [...]

By | 2019-03-21T22:19:52+00:00 February 25th, 2019|Americans with Disabilities Act Claims|0 Comments

What Are Some Examples of Accommodations Under the ADA?

Job and schedule modifications are only the tip of the iceberg Do you have a physical or mental health condition that makes it hard for you to do your job? The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities in the workplace. But what does that actually mean?  Reasonable accommodation may mean a change to the physical environment or a change to some aspects of the job itself—as long as those changes don’t create an undue burden. Here are some concrete examples of reasonable accommodations for specific conditions—but remember, these are only examples. Each accommodation request must be handled on a case-by-case basis. Wheelchair use: Installing a ramp to make a workplace wheelchair-accessible. Modifying a restroom so a worker with disabilities can use it. Changing the layout of cubicles to provide enough room for a wheelchair to pass. Providing a raised or adjustable desk so that a wheelchair can be used in place of a chair. Hearing or vision impairment: Getting dictation software to help a hearing-impaired worker. Purchasing a screen magnifier for a visually impaired person’s computer station. Chronic or sudden medical conditions: Allowing an extended period of unpaid leave to recover [...]

By | 2019-03-05T20:39:23+00:00 February 18th, 2019|Americans with Disabilities Act Claims|0 Comments

What is Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADA?

What employers do and do not have to do Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are required to make certain accommodations for workers with disabilities. “Reasonable accommodation” is the term used for changes made to allow workers with disabilities to do their jobs. Employers are required to make these changes unless they constitute an undue hardship. What Might An Employer Have To Do? Some examples of reasonable accommodations an employer might make include: Workplace modifications. This might include raising a desk so a wheelchair can fit under it; installing a screen magnifier for a visually impaired worker; or making dictation software available for a hearing-impaired employee. Schedule changes. An employer might reorganize a worker’s schedule so they can make regular doctor’s appointments, or increase the amount of unpaid leave an employee can have for medical reasons. Hiring additional staff. This could include hiring interpreters or readers to help an employee, or bringing in a specialist to help with internal training. Changing exam requirements. Being allowed to take the exam orally rather than in writing, or allowing more time to complete the test. Location changes. If you work for a large employer, the employer may be required to transfer [...]

By | 2019-02-25T14:07:40+00:00 February 12th, 2019|Americans with Disabilities Act Claims|0 Comments

3 Ways Your Severance Package Could Undermine Your Future Employment

Don't sign away your rights Leaving your job? Were you offered a severance agreement? Better hold off before you sign. Not only could you sign away important rights if you’re not too careful, but you could be agreeing to terms that could make your life after this job difficult. Red Flags to Look Out For Terms and clauses to watch out for include: Non-compete agreements. This is a clause in your contract that prevents you from working for a competing employer for a certain period of time—sometimes years. It can also put restrictions on your other choices, such as the location where you work. Very restrictive non-compete clauses may not be enforceable in court, but it’s essential to have a lawyer look over any non-compete wording before you sign. Non-disparagement agreements. Some severance contracts contain a clause that says you are not allowed to say anything “disparaging” about the employer. These are difficult to enforce—and if they aren’t mutual, there’s nothing to prevent the company from disparaging you when a future employer calls to check your references. Ideally, what you want is a neutral reference—where the employer will only confirm when you worked for them and what your title was. You can then cultivate [...]

By | 2019-01-29T23:29:07+00:00 January 29th, 2019|Severance Agreement Review, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Negotiating a Severance Agreement

Why you should talk to a lawyer before you sign a severance agreement A severance agreement is a contract between you and your employer that defines the rights and responsibilities of both parties when you leave your job. You might be asked to sign one when you’re hired, but more commonly, you’ll be presented with one when you leave. On the one hand, it’s good to have one—because it stipulates what your employer owes you in terms of severance pay and extended benefits. On the other hand, your employer may demand things in return that can make your life difficult. Before you sign a severance agreement, it’s crucial to have a lawyer look it over. Here’s why. Things you might give up in a bad severance agreement Here are a few things you might have to give up if you sign a severance agreement without knowing what’s in it. Employer payments to your retirement account. Do you have a retirement account with employer-matching contributions? Are you vested? Many employers won’t let you keep that employer contribution unless you are—and that can take years on the job. Check with a lawyer to make sure you know what will happen to your retirement account [...]

By | 2019-01-18T01:57:18+00:00 January 18th, 2019|Severance Agreement Review|0 Comments

The Pay Gap is Real: What Women Need to Know

The Equal Pay Act offers protection If you suspect you’re not making as much as your male colleagues, you’re not alone. This is, sadly, far more common than you’d think in 2019. But you do have options—and you can fight back. Many women get paid less than men who are in the same roles, despite having similar experience and education. What is the Equal Pay Act? The Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963 by President Kennedy as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act. It mandates that employers provide “equal pay for equal work.”   That phrase refers to the expectation that employees in the same workplace be paid the same, regardless of gender, race, and other factors—although the phrase is usually used to refer to the gender wage gap. The “pay” in “equal pay” refers not just to salary, but also bonuses, allowances, and benefits. The Equal Pay Act establishes that people of all genders must be paid the same for work that requires similar: SkillEffortResponsibilityDone under similar working conditionsIn the same establishment This is true even when the jobs aren’t 100% identical. Here’s a breakdown of what each requirement means: Skill: All the experiences, abilities, education, and [...]

By | 2019-01-10T01:30:48+00:00 January 9th, 2019|Workplace Discrimination|0 Comments

How Companies May Use Layoffs to Hide Age Discrimination

What to do when reductions-in-force are questionable A round of layoffs hits your company, and your job is one of those to go. But when you look at the other workers who lost their jobs, you notice you all have one thing in common: you’re all over 40. It happens more often than you’d think. Age discrimination is illegal, but employers can and do sometimes use general layoffs to mask the large-scale firing of older employees and the hiring of younger workers. Here’s how they get away with it. Firing based on salary. Employers have to justify large-scale layoffs in a way that won’t lead to lawsuits, and one way to do that is by firing people based on what they earn: salary, benefits, bonuses, and commissions. This often has the practical effect of shedding large swaths of older, more experienced workers who’ve had time to earn higher salaries—leaving the employer free to hire cheaper, younger workers. This is functionally the same as age discrimination—even if it’s justified on paper. Replacing your job. Some companies will eliminate the jobs of older employees, then pull a sleight-of-hand—re-introducing the old job with a new title, and hiring a younger employee to fill [...]

By | 2019-01-10T01:28:26+00:00 December 18th, 2018|Age Discrimination|0 Comments

You Reported Sexual Harassment, Then You Got Fired—Now What?

How to fight back after retaliation It’s a horrible position to be in: losing your job after reporting sexual harassment. In this situation, it’s easy to feel powerless—but you should know that the law is one your side. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that you have the right to work without being subjected to sexual harassment—and the right to report it if you are the victim. That means it’s against the law for your employer to retaliate against you for reporting sexual harassment, or any other illegal activity. What is retaliation? Retaliation does not just mean firing. It can take many forms, including: Reprimanding you or giving you a lower performance evaluation than you deserve. Transferring you to a less-desirable position or demoting you. Physical or verbal abuse. Threatening to report your immigration status, or file a police report against you. Putting you under increased scrutiny. Retaliating against a family member (for instance, by firing your spouse). Spreading false rumors against you. Deliberately making your job more difficult. What you should do after getting fired  1. Write everything down As much as you can remember, write down the details of the harassment you experienced and the events that led [...]

By | 2019-01-10T01:28:38+00:00 December 4th, 2018|Sexual Harassment|0 Comments

Quiz: Are You Getting Cheated Out of Overtime Pay?

Take this quiz to see if you might be owed money If you’ve worked a lot of overtime and your paycheck is less than it should be, your employer may be misclassifying you in order to dodge paying overtime. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay non-exempt workers at least minimum wage, as well as time and a half for overtime pay. “Overtime” describes all hours worked in a week over 40. Some employees, however, are classified as exempt from overtime. If you’re exempt, you aren’t entitled to overtime pay even if you work more than 40 hours in a week. The specific signs of this misclassification vary depending on your profession, industry, and situation. However, if you think it may be happening to you, here are some questions to ask: 1. Are you hourly or salary? It’s usually salaried employees that are exempt from overtime pay. There are exceptions to this, however—such as people categorized as computer employees. If you earn an hourly wage but your employer has told you that you’re exempt from overtime pay, they may be misclassifying you. 2. Do you make more or less than $455 per week? In many situations, if [...]

By | 2018-11-20T00:49:21+00:00 November 20th, 2018|Overtime Class Actions|0 Comments