This weekend brought another excellent article by Mandy Locke and the News and Observer on the rampant worker misclassification and wage theft going on in NC and nationally. This article tracks one employers intentional misclassification of employees as independent contractors and the failure of our governmental agencies to respond. This comment shows just how bold these employers can be: “It would complicate things, and it would drive my prices up,” Miller said in an interview. “I don’t hire individuals as (employees).”
Employee misclassification happens when an employer intentionally misclassifies an employee as an independent contractor. This cuts the business costs of the employer. But the problem with employee misclassification is that it cheats workers out of the wages and workers’ compensation benefits they deserve, cheats the government out of revenue it is owed, and gives a competitive advantage to employers who cheat over those who do it the right way.
As a workers’ comp lawyer in NC I have handled a number of cases where the employer misclassified an employee as an independent contractor then used that misclassification as a reason not buy NC workers’ compensation coverage. Fortunately the North Carolina Industrial Commission saw through the scam and held the employer individually responsible for the injured workers medical treatment and wage loss.
For many reasons, including workers’ compensation, our officials must address this issue, and I believe they will do so.