NEWARK, N.J. — In a motion to dismiss filed last December in a year-long wage battle between DirecTV and its technicians, DirecTV claimed that the plaintiffs failed to establish that they had an employment relationship with the company and that the suit should be dismissed since they were independent contractors. The plaintiffs here had initially sued the company in 2010 in a putative class action that a Louisiana federal judge conditionally certified. The case was transferred to New Jersey along with more than a dozen other DirecTV technician suits. The plaintiffs claimed that the company denied them pay they were entitled to under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for work weeks up to eighty hours, made them give back their rates through chargebacks, and were denied reimbursement for business expenses.
Employees or Independent Contractors
According to DirecTV, the employees did not allege enough in their complaint to support the conclusion that they were employees and not independent contractors. However, the plaintiffs responded with a brief where it argued that the complaint adequately described the employer-employee relationship between them and the company. The plaintiffs additionally stated that DirecTV’s motion merely tries to deny plaintiffs the opportunity to conduct discovery so that the court can have a full factual record to evaluate their claims.
The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor recently issued additional guidance on employee misclassification as independent contractors under the FLSA. According to the Wage and Hour Administrator’s Interpretation, a legal test called the “economic realities” test should be used to determine whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor under FLSA. This test is used to determine whether an individual is economically dependent on the putative employer (and thus an employee) or is really in the business for him or herself (and thus is an independent contractor). A worker who is economically dependent on an employer is suffered or permitted to work by the employer, which provides a broader scope of employment than older common law standards. This test weighs heavily in favor of the classification of workers as employees.
A misclassified employee may be deprived of substantial wage and hour rights to minimum wage and overtime, along with other federal and state labor laws. You should call (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form on the top right of this page if you feel your employee wage rights have been violated because you have been misclassified as an independent contractor. Our top-rated team of wage lawyers will evaluate your situation to determine your best course of action. We will also determine if it is in your best interest to file a lawsuit against your employer. There are strict time limitations for filing, so it is important that you call our experienced attorneys today.