June 6, 2018 – The changing workforce, the changing economy, and changing technology create more opportunities for people to work how they want to work. For employment lawyers, however, these changes add to an already complicated puzzle.
“Part of the challenge is the proliferation of on-demand providers, on-demand services – the Uber and Lyfts of the world,” said Michael Gotzler, who represents and advises employers on employment-related matters at Clark & Gotzler, Attorneys at Law LLC.
“But also workface demographics. Younger generations are often looking for short-term, gig relationships,” said Gotzler, one of numerous attorneys presenting a full-day seminar, “Is the Gig Up? Compliance and the Independent Contractor,” produced by State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE® and airing via webcasts on four dates this month.
Speakers included employment attorneys who represent management, workers, and one who works at the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD), providing insight on employment law issues that can lead to enforcement actions.
Jim Chiolino, who works in the DWD’s Equal Rights Division, says his office will see complaints from workers who believe they were misclassified and thus paid incorrectly.
“They come to us and file a labor standards complaint,” Chiolino said. “We will investigate and determine if they were properly classified as independent contractors.”
From a practical perspective, employer-side attorney Jane Clark says there are numerous considerations when employers are engaging independent contractors, including what terms should be included in an independent contractor agreement.
“Equally, if not more import is how you are engaging with this independent contractor on a day-to-day basis,” said Clark, a founding partner at Clark & Gotzler. “you may have the best independent contractor agreement, but if you are treating that worker like an employee, it’s going to skew the whole classification.”
Clark also said Wisconsin is increasingly part of the global economy, and Wisconsin-based employers may have workers who reside and work in many different states and other states may have unique requirements that employers must understand.
Heath Straka represents workers at Axley Brynelson LLP. “There’s a big increase in the number of independent contractors around the state and throughout the country,” said Straka, noting the use of subcontractors allows businesses to keep payroll down.
“Independent contractors won’t get overtime,” he said. “If they believe they are really an employee, we may have a wage and hour complaint.” Straka also noted numerous regulatory changes since President Donald Trump took office, and seminal case law.
Interested in learning more about legal issues in the gig economy?
State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE is running webcasts replays of “Is the Gig Up? Compliance and the Independent Contractor” (6 CLE) on the following dates: