Drywall Installers are “Employees” Entitled to Overtime and Other Benefits
The New Jersey Supreme Court held that a group of drywall installers are New Jersey employees entitled to overtime and other benefits under New Jersey law. One of the ways that employers engage in wage theft is to falsely misclassify workers as “independent contractors” rather than “employees.” If a worker is an “independent contractor,” then the employer saves money by not having to pay overtime, the minimum wage, unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation, and more. The particular method of wage theft is very common in the construction and building industries. Fortunately for workers, in some States, there are stringent tests for when a worker can be classified as an “independent contractor.” Further, in some States — like New Jersey — the labor laws assume that a worker is an “employee” unless the employer proves otherwise.
Misclassifying Employees as Independent Contractors in New Jersey
In a recent case, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that drywall installers were employees, not independent contractors for purposes of the NJ workers’ compensation laws. See case Opinion here. New Jersey used a pro-worker legal test for determining if a worker is an independent contractor called the “ABC test.” Under the New Jersey version of the ABC test, a worker is assumed to be an “employee” unless an employer can prove EACH of the following:
- The worker is free from the employer’s control or direction when performing the tasks or service
- The worker’s service or tasks is either not part of the “usual course of the business” for the employer or are performed outside of the usual places where the employer operates its business AND
- The worker is “customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession or business”
In a case involving a drywall installation business, the business hired teams of drywall installers that were sent to various construction locations that were not owned or controlled by the drywall business, as determined by builders. Further, the builders assigned the tasks and duties for each group of drywallers. Based on this, the drywall installation business claimed that the installers were “independent contractors.” The drywall company had no control or direction over the work being done, the work was done at other locations, and the company claimed that drywall installation was a “customary” trade or profession.
However, the New Jersey Department of Labor disagreed and sued the installation company. Eventually, the New Jersey Supreme Court agreed with the NJ Department of Labor. According to the court, the installation company failed to prove the “C” prong of the ABC test. New Jersey has a strict version of this requirement that basically asks: “If the relationship with the employer ends, would the worker join the ranks of the unemployed?” If “yes,” then under New Jersey law, the worker cannot be considered independent under prong C of the ABC test. The court held that the drywall installation company had not proved that the installers were independent. Thus, the court held that they were “employees.”
Call the Employee Rights Attorneys at Herrmann Law Today
If you think you have been misclassified as an “independent contractor,” call the Employee Rights attorneys at Herrmann Law. Or, if you think that your employer has violated your rights as an employee in some other way, call us. We are proven, experienced, employee-focused attorneys representing workers across the United States in all types of workplace disputes. Use our Online Contact page or call us at (817) 479-9229. We are more than just a law firm for employees – we are an employee’s fiercest advocate, equipping employees with the legal representation needed to achieve the best result possible.