The Changing Tide of Employee Classification

Author: Brynn Stylinski, Associate Member, University of Cincinnati Law Review

For years, many employers have chosen to hire independent contractors rather than employees because contractors are not entitled overtime or benefits like those under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but employees are. Many workers have filed lawsuits against employers, alleging that they been misclassified as independent contractors and are entitled to benefits as employees. In Alexander v. FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., the Ninth Circuit addressed this type of claim of misclassification by current and former FedEx drivers attempting to obtain back wages and benefits under the FMLA.[1] The court’s determination that the drivers were employees signals a shift in the judicial system’s approach to determining employee status. Though that shift will likely lead many employers to modify their agreements with contractors and employees to minimize the employers’ liability, hopefully it will allow more plaintiffs to obtain the benefits of which they have been deprived by their employers.

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