Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog

Employee Rights Lawyer Rachel Geman Comments on the DOL’s New Misclassification Guidance

Employee Rights Lawyer Rachel Geman Comments on the DOL's New Misclassification Guidance

Millions of American workers are victims of misclassification. In these cases, the employer has wrongly and unlawfully classified these workers as “independent contractors” and denied them overtime pay and other important benefits.



The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and various state laws provide that all employees should get overtime unless they fall within certain narrow exemptions. The FLSA and many state laws provide that nonexempt employees must be paid time-and-a-half for each hour over 40 worked in a week.

On July 14, 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor issued an interpretation on how to determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The misclassification guidance says most workers qualify as “employees” under the FLSA’s expansive definitions.

Rachel Geman, one of the nationally prominent lawyers at Lieff Cabraser who represents workers wrongly denied overtime pay and other benefits owed them as employees, provided the following statement to Law360 on the significance of the guidance:

“The Administrator’s Interpretation is an important reminder that the law and regulators expect that workers will be classified as employees. Too often this is reversed, with many employers and industries starting from the presumption that they have as few acknowledged employees as possible — even for workers who earn relatively little. That is not the law. Consistent with its purpose, much of the interpretation clarifies existing law, but in so doing it provides guidance to address many of the common employer defenses, such as work location, the meaning of ‘opportunity for loss,’ worker investments, and — notably — the relevance of the ‘control’ factor.

This is welcome language from the Department of Labor on this hugely important issue of the use and misuse of the independent contractor designation. It is also consistent with recent decisions involving Uber and other companies showing that employers who misclassify workers face steep consequences.”

Read detailed answers to common questions on the rights of employees to overtime pay.

If you have specific questions about your rights, please complete the form on the page to contact an attorney at Lieff Cabraser, or call us toll-free at 1 800 541-7358 and ask to speak to lawyer Anne Shaver.