Although state and federal labor laws addressing the distinction between regular employees and independent contractors can be a bit abstruse, what courts often look to as being of prime importance is an employer’s degree of control over a worker.
Is it indirect? Is a worker’s job deemed project-based and intended to be of a finite duration? Is supervision seldom forthcoming regarding the how-to-do-It details of a work task?
If such factors are clearly in evidence, a worker is often deemed an independent contractor.
If, conversely, the job being done is an integral component of the employer’s business, the worker’s duties carry over beyond one or more projects and the employer actively manages work matters, it is more likely that a worker will be designated as an employee.
An instructive California-based case spotlighting employees versus independent contractors puts professional cheerleaders front and center.
They have long been classified as contractors by the pro football teams that hire them.
That designation has prevailed despite their instant identification with their teams, the time they spend — season after season — practicing, rehearsing, working during games and making team-related appearances during the off season.
Performing such activities makes them employees, not contractors, states a newly passed law just signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown.
The designation is of high importance, given that, before it took effect, California’s National Football League teams were not obliged to offer their cheerleaders the protections accorded by state labor laws, including workers’ compensation coverage for injuries suffered during the course of employment.
“We would never tolerate shortchanging of women workers at any other workplace,” said the state legislator sponsoring the bill.
“An NFL game should be no different,” she added.
And now it won’t be in California from the upcoming season.
Source: CNN, “California cheerleaders win right to be paid and treated like regular employees,” Chris Isidore, July 16, 2015