INVESTIGATIONS

+Delivery Drivers in the District of Columbia: Independent Contractor Misclassification/Minimum-Wage/Overtime Violations

With the COVID-19 pandemic, more than ever the world is depending on delivery drivers. But some drivers are not being paid fully for their labor. Companies have misclassified drivers as “independent contractors,” when they are actually employees, so that they can avoid paying drivers at least the minimum wage, reimbursement of their work expenses, and time-and-a-half for overtime.

 

Should I be classified as an employee or an independent contractor?

Under federal law, the "economic realities" test generally determines whether an employment relationship exists. Under this test, you may be considered an employee, rather than an independent contractor, if you are economically dependent on the company you work for, as opposed to being in business for yourself.

 

Minimum wage in the District of Columbia

The minimum wage in D.C. is much higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25:

  • Effective July 1, 2017, $12.50 per hour

  • Effective July 1, 2018, $13.25 per hour

  • Effective July 1, 2019, $14.00 per hour

  • Effective July 1, 2020, $15.00 per hour

If you are found to be an employee, you are entitled to at least this minimum wage. Keep in mind that any expenses (such as vehicle expenses) you incur should be reimbursed by your employer so that after expenses are reimbursed, you still receive the minimum wage. For example, an employer may reimburse you at the IRS Mileage rate (currently $0.575) for each mile driven during your work shifts. 

 

What if I also work in Maryland or Virginia?

You are protected by the D.C.’s minimum wage laws if:

(1) you spend more than 50% of your working time in the District; or

(2) you are based in the District and you do not spend more than 50% of your working time in Maryland or Virginia

This means that if you fit within the definition of an “employee” under D.C. Law, your employer needs to pay you the minimum wage (and also reimburse all work expenses) for all hours you work, even those you worked in Maryland and Virginia.

 

How can we help?

Goodley Law is collaborating with Edelson Lechtzin to seek compensation for impacted workers. Our law firms are experienced in representing workers in unpaid wage lawsuits. Typically, we bring these cases as a class action, so you won't be fighting the company by yourself. You will have a team of lawyers representing you and your co-workers. And because we take these cases on a contingent fee basis, there's no cost to you. We don't get paid unless we get money for you and the class.

What should I do next?

If you believe that you have been misclassified as an independent contractor, fill out the form on our Contact page. One of our lawyers will contact you to schedule a free 30-minute consultation so that we can get your side of the story and evaluate your rights under the applicable state and federal wage and hour laws.

+Philadelphia Building Service Employees: Prevailing Wages and Benefits

Building service employees are critical to the safe and clean operation of any building. Under Philadelphia law, employees such as janitors, front desk persons, security guards, maintenance workers and landscapers who work in the City at large institutions receiving City financial assistance, such as Hospitals, Universities, Large Commercial Buildings, Convention Centers and Airports, must be paid prevailing wages and health benefits which are much higher than the current $7.25 federal and state minimum wage.

 

Does it make a difference whether I am employed directly by a hospital or university or whether I was hired by its contractor/subcontractor?

No, under City Law, you must be paid at least the minimum/prevailing wages and benefits, regardless of whether you are employed directly by a hospital or university, or are employed by one of its contractors or subcontractors (e.g., a cleaning or security company).

 

Minimum wage for all occupations:

Each occupation of worker has its own prevailing wage.  However, any Building Service worker must be paid at least the following wages (plus health benefits):

(a)   Between January 1, 2019 and June 30, 2019, twelve dollars and forty cents ($12.40);

(b)   Between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020, thirteen dollars and twenty-five cents ($13.25);

(c)   Between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, thirteen dollars and seventy-five cents ($13.75);

(d)   Between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, fourteen dollars and twenty-five cents ($14.25).

 

Prevailing wages for specific occupations:

Beyond the minimum wages just mentioned, each specific occupation may have an even higher prevailing wage requirement.  For example, the following occupations must be paid at least the following hourly wages (plus health benefits):

  • Janitors and Elevator Operators, $14.17 per hour

  • Groundskeepers, $16.22 per hour

  • Window Cleaners, $15.35 per hour

  • Security Guard I, $14.50 per hour

  • Security Guard II, $18.81 per hour

  • Alarm Monitors, $22.66 per hour

  • Maintenance Electricians, $33.75 per hour

  • HVAC Mechanics, $26.31 per hour

       

Health benefits for all occupations:

In addition to their required minimum or prevailing hourly wage, each occupation of worker must also be provided health benefits with a value of at least $4.54 per hour ($181.60 per week or $786.93 per month).  Alternatively, the employer may be able to satisfy this requirement by providing this same amount of money in the form of additional hourly wages.

 

How can we help?

Goodley Law is collaborating with other lawyers to seek compensation for impacted workers. Our law firms are experienced in representing workers in unpaid wage lawsuits. Typically, we bring these cases as a class action, so you won't be fighting the company by yourself. You will have a team of lawyers representing you and your co-workers. And because we take these cases on a contingent fee basis, there's no cost to you. We don't get paid unless we get money for you and the class.

What should I do next?

If, at any time during the past three years, you worked as a building service employee at a Philadelphia hospital or university and were not paid prevailing wages, fill out the form on our Contact page. One of our lawyers will contact you to schedule a free 30-minute consultation so that we can get your side of the story and evaluate your rights under the applicable state and federal wage and hour laws.

+Copyeditors and Copywriters: Unpaid Minimum Wages, Overtime Wages and Misclassification

Copyeditors and copywriters are ubiquitous in today’s digital media space.  These workers are critical in the fields of journalism and advertising.  Without content creation and content editing, media companies and advertising agencies would cease to exist.  Unfortunately, some employers treat these workers as expendable and fail to pay them time and a half when they work more than 40 hours in a week.  Some employers even make these workers work so long and for so little pay that their hourly rate falls below state or federal minimum wage levels.  In many of these cases, it is because the employer tries to evade labor laws by improperly classifying these workers as “independent contractors.”

 

Am I eligible for overtime pay if I was paid a salary?

Yes, you may be.  In order for you to be an overtime-exempt employee under federal law, you must not only be paid a salary of at least $684 every week, but also the “primary duty” of your work must qualify for an applicable exemption.  In other unpaid overtime cases, employers have asserted the “creative professional” exemption, arguing that the employee’s work requires, “invention, imagination, originality or talent in a recognized field of artistic or creative endeavor as opposed to routine mental, manual, mechanical or physical work.”  29 CFR § 541.302.  Yet in many circumstances, copyeditors are engaging in fact-checking or editing for grammar, rather than engaging in truly creative endeavors.  Accordingly, in several cases, courts have rejected this defense and held that copyeditors and writers were entitled to overtime pay.  

 

Does it make a difference if my employer classified me as an independent contractor?

No, the mere fact that you signed a contract stating that you are an “independent contractor” does not answer this question.  Whether you are actually an employee (and thus entitled to overtime and minimum wage protections) is a legal question which depends on the facts and circumstances of your work.  Under federal law, the “economic realities” test answers this question and under the laws of some states, an even more worker-friendly “ABC” test may apply.

 

How can we help?

Goodley Law is collaborating with other lawyers to seek compensation for impacted workers. Our law firms are experienced in representing workers in unpaid wage lawsuits. Typically, we bring these cases as a class action, so you won't be fighting the company by yourself. You will have a team of lawyers representing you and your co-workers. And because we take these cases on a contingent fee basis, there's no cost to you. We don't get paid unless we get money for you and the class.

 

​What should I do next?

If, at any time during the past three years, you worked as a copy editor or content creator somewhere in the United States and were not paid overtime compensation and/or at least the minimum wage for non-overtime hours, fill out the form on our Contact page. We will contact you to schedule a free 30-minute consultation so that we can get your side of the story and evaluate your rights under the applicable state and federal wage and hour laws.