Construction is an industry where the misclassification of workers is unfortunately common. Many construction workers do work as independent contractors. Rather than being employed by a construction company, independent contractors are technically self-employed and take on temporary jobs from different businesses. Other workers are employed by construction companies, and are entitled to benefits such as overtime pay and workers’ compensation. A business may misclassify their workers as a way to cut the costs of taxes, benefit payouts, or insurance premiums.
How Does Tennessee State Law Define an Independent Contractor?
According to the Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, a worker is an independent contractor if they “decide how and when the work is done,” “set their own working hours,” “hire and pay their own helpers,” “use their own tools and equipment,” and “can work for many customers.”
In comparison, an employee “can quit before a job is done” and “are paid hourly, not by the job.” An employee will likely rely on the company they work for to provide equipment and set their schedule.
A worker that does not fit the state’s definition of an independent contractor is entitled to full employment benefits. Employers who do not provide these benefits to their workers may be violating Tennessee’s employment laws.
Penalties for Misclassification
A construction company that is discovered to be in violation of employee classification laws in Tennessee may face financial penalties. TN Code § 50-6-411 (2018) states that offending “construction service providers” could be issued penalties “of up to the greater of one thousand dollars ($1,000) or one and one half (1½) times the average yearly workers' compensation premium.” The law also states that “the department shall refer cases involving business operations that are in violation of this section to the Tennessee bureau of investigation or the appropriate district attorney general for any action deemed necessary under any applicable criminal law.”
Your Rights as an Employee
As a construction employee, you are entitled to the full benefits of employment. Employees (as opposed to independent contractors) have a legal right to earn overtime pay, have sick days, and receive workers’ compensation in the event of an on-the-job injury, among other benefits.
If you are an employee who feels that your place of work has misclassified your employment status and is denying you benefits, contact Donati Law, PLLC today.
For a free case evaluation with our legal team, call (901) 209-5500 or send us a message.