A federal appeals court recently ruled that cable installers should be treated like employees, not independent contractors. This ruling should change the practices of many cable companies!
Here is the issue: sometimes, to save money, cable installation companies classify their installers as “independent contractors.” This way, they don’t pay overtime, don’t pay into unemployment, don’t have to have workers compensation insurance, save money on taxes, etc…
Well, there is a legal definition of an ‘independent contractor’ so you can’t just use that title whenever you want. In fact, Connecticut’s rule is one of the strictest in the country.
Here is an excerpt from a blog on this topic that explains it very well (I recommend that you read the entire blog):
In Scantland v. Jeffry Knight, Inc., the Eleventh Circuit suggested the district court missed the forest for the trees by rigidly applying the familiar six-factor test for independent contractor status. Instead, the appellate court reasoned, the lower court should have kept sight of the overarching and determinative inquiry of “whether the total of the testing” establishes that the alleged employees “are so dependent on the business with which they are connected that they come within the protection of the FLSA or are sufficiently independent to lie outside its ambit.”
Here in Connecticut, the test is even tougher. An employer must show that the “employee” is sufficiently free from control, not engaged in the same business that the company is (e.g., a law firm can hire a painter as an IC), and is independently established in their own trade, profession or occupation.
So, cable installers should complain. Being an independent contractor is not as good as being an employee. The law provides far more benefits and protections to employees.