independent contractor


Both Washington law and federal law are clear that simply calling a wage earner an “independent contractor” does not make it so.  We recently won a partial summary judgment in our client’s favor by demonstrating that the written contract, the business license, and the requirement that he submit invoices in order to be paid his wages were sham constructs devised by his employer.  The court reviewed the evidence and agreed.  We now will proceed to trial on the only issue remaining — how much he is owed.

This firm advises clients on both sides of the employment table.  We routinely advise business owners that the manner in which parties themselves approach the relationship will govern whether it is legally found to be a true independent contracting relationship.  If you are a business owner and you need help to achieve your business objectives, seek the guidance of an attorney to determine what is — and what is not — likely to be viewed as a truly independent relationship.  The old “control” test has been set aside for the newer “economic realities” test.  If this position is the sole or primary means of supporting the wage earner, it is likely to be found as employment and not independent contracting.

Paying payroll taxes, overtime, and insurance for employee conduct is a challenge for small businesses.  There are benefits to both employment and independent contractor relationships.  Seek good counsel to determine how far you can go, IF you can go, in either direction.

If you are a wage claimant, do not be discouraged by the fact that you signed a document stating you are just an independent contractor, and have agreed to be paid if and when the owner is paid for your work.  Such agreements are not enforceable if you truly were employed by the business and dependent upon your earnings there as a sole means of support.