By Elad Gross, Candidate for Missouri Attorney General
A growing issue facing Missouri workers is misclassification. Misclassification occurs when an employer purposefully designates a worker as an “independent contractor” instead of as an “employee.”
Why would an employer do that? To save money.
In general, an employee is someone who is working under the direction and control of the employer. Think about all the instructions you have to follow at work: When to show up, what to wear, what to do, and how to do it.
An independent contractor is supposed to be much more independent, oftentimes hired to do a specific project for a client.
Sometimes, the line between employee and contractor can get blurred. But far too often, employers purposefully choose to designate their employees as contractors just to save money.
Misclassification comes with serious consequences for workers, employers who are following the law, and our government. An employee who is misclassified as a contractor has less rights in the workplace. Workplace safety protections, the right to unionize, and civil rights protections against discrimination and harassment are all severely reduced or eliminated. Employers can avoid having to pay workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance, along with taxes. Misclassified workers also earn less than their properly-classified counterparts.
Misclassification is a growing problem. New high tech and gig economy jobs often involve misclassification. And jobs like custodial services and construction are already notorious for misclassification.
Misclassification hurts workers, damages the safety net, and provides misclassifying employers with a leg up in the marketplace. You can learn more here.
Given the importance and prevalence of misclassification, you’d expect state Attorneys General to be pretty involved in this issue. That’s true about a lot of states, but not Missouri. It’s beyond time to change that.
Here’s our plan to fight misclassification:
- We will create and fully staff a Civil Rights Division at the Attorney General’s Office. This Division will work with the Attorney General’s Workers’ Compensation (called “Labor”) Division, law enforcement officers, and state and federal investigators to ensure workplace and market fairness.
- We will fight illegal misclassification by employers. As Attorney General, I will seek emergency injunctions against employers who purposefully violate workers’ rights under Missouri Revised Statute 285.512.
- We will enforce Missouri’s labor and consumer protection laws. We will not let cheating employers have an advantage over hardworking Missourians running their businesses the right way. As Attorney General, I will enforce Missouri Revised Statute 285.503, which prohibits misclassification and authorizes the Attorney General to protect consumers from scam businesses.
- We will work with Missourians and community organizations to educate workers and employers about their rights and obligations under the law. Collaborative approaches are often the best way to get our systems working. We urgently need an Attorney General who is active in all of our communities.
- We will join other states in their fight for fairer workplace standards under the law. Missouri can be a leader in ensuring fairness for all.
- We will fight dark money and public corruption. Our Attorney General will no longer be in the pocket of big business, and our state will no longer be for sale.
Missouri can be a national leader in ensuring fairness in our marketplace, protecting workers’ rights, and holding our officials accountable to the people. You can help.
Join us at EladGross.org.