Unpaid Wages and Employee Misclassification

Misclassification of workers occurs when an employer improperly classifies their employees as independent contractors so that they do not have to pay payroll taxes, minimum wage or overtime, or comply with other wage and hour law requirements such as providing meal periods and rest breaks. Employers may classify you as an “Independent Contractor” and treat you as “exempt” from overtime and require you to work uncompensated time, although you really are an employee and should be compensated for all hours worked and be provided other benefits of employment. Misclassification, or labeling a worker as an independent contractor when they should be an employee, undermines businesses who play by the rules and basic worker protections like minimum wage, paid sick days, and the safety of workplaces. Additionally, the misclassified worker has no workers’ compensation coverage if injured on the job, no right to family leave, no unemployment insurance, and no protection against employer retaliation.

A good resource to learn more about the employment status of workers can be found at: https://www.labor.ca.gov/employmentstatus/faq

Olivares Law has substantial experience challenging this illegal practices through class action cases filed on behalf of affected workers. In a recent case, Ms. Olivares was lead counsel on a case filed against AEG and Levy Premium Foodservice on behalf of over 2,000 stadium and arena vendors who were misclassified as independent contractors and were paid a percentage of what they sold, no matter how many hours they worked. This practice resulted in vendors being paid less than the minimum wage. Ms. Olivares recovered $8 million on their behalf to reimburse them for all unpaid wages over a 4-year period. In another case, Ms. Olivares represented a group of employees who were classified as “sales representatives” but spent more than 50% of their time performing non sale duties. This practice allowed the company to designate the sales reps as “exempt” from overtime pay. Ms. Olivares recovered $1.3 million on behalf of the approximately 113 class members she represented.

Ms. Olivares has been named Class Counsel in numerous class action cases, representing County of Los Angeles applicants and employees, restaurant workers, sales representatives, and retail employees.

If you are owed wages or believe you have been misclassified as “exempt”, call us to discuss your options.