Defending Against Misclassification Claims

March 16, 2018

One of the most confusing and contentious issues for both employers and workers is identifying whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor. The consequences to an employer of misclassifying employees as independent contractors can be severe and include penalties and liability for back taxes, overtime pay, workers compensation, and retirement benefits.

Epstein Becker Green has experience successfully defending employers against allegations of worker misclassification. For example, we recently achieved an important victory for a modeling agency client in an action brought by a “fit model” who claimed that she was misclassified as an independent contractor. (Fit models serve as living and moving mannequins on whom sample fabrics and designs are draped, sized, cut, and pinned by, and who give feedback and design suggestions to, designers and clothing manufacturers.) Epstein Becker Green convinced the district court to follow the holding handed down last year by a federal appeals court in a class and collective action alleging worker misclassification (a case in which Epstein Becker Green succeeded in proving that the plaintiff-drivers were independent contractors) and likewise rule that the fit model was an independent contractor. The district court also accepted Epstein Becker Green’s argument that our client does not hire models—rather, the models hire our client—which further proved that the plaintiff was an independent contractor.