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Misclassifying employees: a way to dodge wages, benefits?

There's a growing problem in Florida's economy: the misclassification of workers as independent contractors rather than employees. The benefits to the employer who misclassifies workers can be substantial. The misclassification can mean that the company can dodge paying overtime, as well as evade required workers' compensation insurance premiums and unemployment insurance, too.

The misclassification can also be used to skirt the minimum wage law, as well as family and medical leave to which many employees are entitled.

Who bears the brunt of the misclassification? Of course, it's the worker denied overtime pay, minimum wage, workers' comp, unemployment insurance benefits, etc.

Some readers might remember an award-winning investigative report last year from the nonprofit ProPublica and McClatchy newspaper chain exposing the multi-billion dollar fraud in the construction industry by employers who misclassify workers.

One of the stories contained in their report was of a Florida man injured on a construction job. He found out the very hard way that his employer "was engaged in a complicated and illegal scheme to avoid paying workers' comp premiums." The man wound up enduring 15 months with no medical care and no income as a result.

"This is a widespread, highly organized form of fraud," said the former head of Florida's Bureau of Workers' Compensation Fraud between 2009 and 2013.

If you have been denied deserved wages or benefits by your employer, speak with an employment law attorney experienced in wage and hour litigation. An attorney can help you understand the law applicable to your case and then pursue a favorable resolution of the dispute.

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