The distinction between an independent contractor and an employee is undoubtedly a confusing issue for many workers, but being misclassified as an independent contractor can result in quite a bit of lost revenue for actual employees.
A few weeks ago, two exotic dancers hailing from Illinois filed a class action suit against their former employer for improperly classifying them as independent contractors when they believed they were treated as employees.
The two ladies claimed that on paper they were independent contractors, exempt from benefits, hourly pay, overtime pay and a minimum wage, but, in person, they were treated as employees, forced to share tips and follow managerial instructions regarding schedules and attire.
The problem is that a lot of businesses get a financial break by classifying workers as independent contractors, while maintaining the same supervisory authority over them.
That’s a great deal for employers, but it’s also illegal. True independent contractors cannot be told how or when to do their job, they are their own business.
According the suit:
Defendants [VCG Holding Corp.] set the hours of operation; length of shifts dancers must work; the show times during which a dancer may perform; … the sequence in which a dancer may perform on stage during her stage rotation; the format and themes of dancers’ performances (including their costuming and appearances); … conduct while at work (i.e. that they be on the floor as much as possible when not on stage and mingle with patrons in a manner that supports Defendant’s general business plan) …
Another plus for employers, since independent contractors are viewed as individual businesses, they can’t organize.
“the industry-wide shift toward classifying dancers as independent contractors … has certainly made it more difficult for dancers to organize for labor rights. By law, independent contractors are unable to unionize. More insidiously, dancers’ endless competition for tips undermines the worker solidarity necessary for any sort of workplace organizing,” Rachel Aimiee, co-founder of the exotic dancer advocacy organization We Are Dancers, wrote in a 2012 essay for In These Times.
Although the distinction isn’t always clear, workers need to ensure that if they’re classified as an independent contractor, they’re treated as such.
Tags: independent contractors, misclassification, wage theft
According to the National Employment Law Project, as of this week 2 million unemployed individuals are without unemployment insurance, due to Congress’ decision to let extended benefits expire back in December.
The end of unemployment insurance is yet another stiff break for families that have been struggling with long-term unemployment.
According to the report:
“Families dealing with extended job loss have been found to experience significant increases in poverty during that period. Other research has drawn links between a parent’s job loss and a child’s performance at school.”
Millions of hardworking Americans are being penalized for a terrible economy that they didn’t help create. These people aren’t lazy, as evidenced by their previous employment, and they aren’t using government assistance as a solution to their problems, they simply cannot find work.
The number of out of work and out of luck Americans will continue to grow until Americans band together and tell their Senators to renew unemployment insurance.
Tell your Senator to end the games: renew unemployment insurance now.
Photo courtesy of James Lee on Flickr.
Tags: long-term unemployment, unemployment, unemployment extension, unemployment insurance
As the polar vortex rages on, showing no signs of letting up anytime soon, the occasional cold or flu is indeed expected.
But could you imagine being sick with the flu and not being able to take a paid sick day? It’s a luxury that many take for granted but according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), access to paid sick days is unequally distributed amongst Americans based on occupation, race and class.
“Less than a quarter (24 percent) of employees in Food Preparation and Serving Related occupations, and less than a third (31 percent) of workers in Personal Care and Service occupations have access to sick days with pay.”
This is a sharp contrast to the 61% of private sector employees with the benefit. Additionally, only 47% of Hispanic workers got paid sick days, compared to 64% of white workers, IWPR notes.
As with most injustices in this country, it seems that paid sick days are another example of the rampant inequality that plagues the have-nots. While this is surely a monetary issue for many employers, all hardworking Americans deserve to rest their fatigued bodies without worrying about having enough money to go grocery shopping the following week, regardless of their place on the workplace totem pole.
Plus, despite Right-wing arguments, paid sick days provide employers a host of positive effects.
Photo courtesy of William Brawley.
Tags: Paid Sick Days
Just in case folks need a reminder, being unemployed really sucks. On top of the stress of not knowing how you’re going to pay rent or afford to eat, you feel isolated from your friends and family. Most people get that being out of work is no picnic, but Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) needs a refresher. Kirk voted twice against extending emergency jobless benefits, which is crazy when you consider more than 99,000 Illinoisans have lost this lifeline.
Click here to read 21 anonymous confessions from jobless workers from the secret-sharing app Whisper on the AFL-CIO’s BuzzFeed page.
Call your senators today and ask them to renew unemployment insurance: 845-809-4509.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
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In January, Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois was one of six Republicans to allow a bill extending unemployment insurance (UI) to proceed in the Senate.
But when the bill was coming up for a cloture vote, Kirk said that he would only vote for it if the costs were offset by spending cuts.
After much negotiation, Democrats and Republicans figured out a solution to pay for extending unemployment insurance. That bill was expected to break the filibuster on February 6, but it fell one vote short. Going back on his promise, had Kirk remained with the filibuster. On Twitter, he said it was because the negotiated offsets were “political gimmicks.”
Let’s get back to gimmicks in a second. First, here’s what’s happening while the Republican-led filibuster of UI remains in place.
The number of Americans without emergency unemployment benefits continues to grow. 1.3 million Americans, including 20,000 recent veterans, lost UI when the benefits first expired last December. Since then, another 400,000 Americans have joined their ranks.
Illinois has an unemployment rate higher than the national average, 8.9 percent as of October. More than 119,000 Illinois residents will lose benefits by the end of next week if UI is not extended. Not surprisingly, polling shows they support a UI extension 63-31.
The same poll showed that 40 percent of respondents say they are less likely to vote for Kirk because of his obstruction of UI.
It’s not clear what Kirk is waiting for. It is clear, however, how he has been spending his time and office resources.
Other than the one tweet, Kirk didn’t issue a press release about his vote. On his official website, there is no information on why he voted for, then twice against, extending unemployment insurance.
But there is an extensive Flash-powered page dedicated to the 11 Olympic athletes who hail from Illinois.
Kirk’s office also posted extensively on all his social media channels for the two week duration of the Sochi games.
Seems like Senator Kirk is plenty familiar with “political gimmicks.”
By April 5, the total number of Americans cut off from emergency unemployment insurance will reach 2.3 million. At any time, Senator Kirk can drop his support for the Republican-led filibuster and allow the bill to proceed on an up-or-down vote. Like he said he would.
Isn’t that the least he can do for 1.7 million job-seekers? Or do unemployed Illinoisans have to be Olympic athletes to get their Senator’s attention?
Tell your Senator to end the games: renew unemployment insurance now.
Photo by juggernautco on Flickr
Tags: filibuster, Illinois, Jobs, Mark Kirk, olympics, unemployment, unemployment insurance
Corporations and corporate CEO’s are making money.
This information likely comes as a surprise to no one, but what is surprising is that, in an economy that still feels pretty weak, corporations are making this much money.
U.S. corporate profits are the highest they’ve been in 60 years, and according to a U.S. economist those profits are linked to ridiculously low hourly wages.
“The strength (in profits) is directly related to the weakness in hourly wages, which are still growing at just a 2% nominal pace. The weakness of wages and the resulting strength of profits are telling signs that the US labor market is still far from full employment,” says Jan Hatzius, U.S. economist at Goldman Sachs.
For all of you visual learners, the charts offer an excellent illustration of exactly how outrageous corporate profits are compared to the low and slow to grow, wages of American workers.
Although many business owners are against raising the minimum wage, there’s evidence to support that raising the wage would actually help businesses by decreasing turnover and increasing productivity.
A few weeks ago, The Gap decided to increase its hourly wage to $9 in 2014 and $10 in 2015, CEO Glenn Murphy noted that it would deliver a return many times over.
Let’s put an end to the ever growing income gap in this country and Raise the Wage.