Independent Contractors vs Employees

Are independent contractors getting abused?

Do you understand the difference between an independent contractor vs employee and why the distinction matters? Read to find out!

Are independent contractors getting abused? Independent contractors vs employees

Are Independent Contractors Getting Abused?

It’s all over the news right now. The Biden administration recently released a proposal that could lead to millions of workers being classified as employees rather than independent contractors. This has been met with debate from both sides on what this could mean for workers in the future. For starters, are independent contractors getting abused? Well, that depends who you ask. Some of us might not even know which is part of the problem. So, how do we define the difference between an independent contractor vs employee? And why is that distinction so important?

This is an issue I have extremely strong opinions about for a few reasons. 1) I’ve studied the history going all the way back to the abuse of “independent contractors” working in the Triangle factory. 2) I have firsthand experience of being misclassified as an independent contractor for years at my last job. And 3) I now legitimately am working as an independent contractor and can also see the concerns related to implementation of CA’s AB 5 law and why that could cause people to fear something similar on the federal level.

What is the difference between an independent contractor vs employee?

Here are my thoughts. The term independent contractor has been ambiguously defined for years. While some self-employed freelancers are truly deserving of the title, the ambiguous definition has left room for employers to take advantage and workers to have little recourse. For instance, many workers in the Triangle were considered independent contractors, responsible for providing their own thread and paid for pieces completed rather than an hourly wage. They were exempt from worker’s compensation if they were injured on the job because they were not actual employees.

In more recent years this practice and abuse continues. My last job classified me as an independent contractor. However, I had no independent business or other clients, only them. They dictated my hours and pay. I was required to attend staff meetings, complete employee training and I was also required to work weekends and after hours for the “good of the company”. They also withheld nothing towards my taxes or Social Security. In addition to that, I got no maternity leave and was only able to take six weeks unpaid time off after the birth of my youngest, two of which she spent in the NICU.

During Covid budget cut time when the rest of the staff was required to take their PTO, I was also required to take an unpaid week off from work. To say, I grew frustrated by all this was an understatement.

The final icing on the cake came when I finally decided to leave. I wrote a goodbye email and provided my personal contact info to clients to remain in touch. The company came after me with a cease and desist order for supposed solicitation. I have to admit, as my anger faded, I actually laughed at this, because I think they had even forgotten at this point that I wasn’t considered one of their employees with a non-compete clause!

I could have probably retaliated and fought against them for misclassification etc, but I didn’t have the time, money or energy. And that is the problem. I was a little person at the behest of a Goliath.

As the reporting about the Biden proposal comes out it’s mostly focused on the gig economy, but what many Americans fail to realize is just how prevalent this problem is. There are MANY workers misclassified as independent contractors and in all different sectors of work.

As I work as a true freelance independent contractor now, I do understand the fears people have of having their freedom clipped. How too much legislation could make a potential client hesitate from legitimately hiring a freelancer for work if they might have to put them on their books.

But, I also think it’s time for the abuses with this label to end. We need clearly laid definitive questions that distinguish the difference between a freelancer with their own business working with other clients and an employee who just isn’t being put on the books. We need enforcement so companies cannot get away with misusing their power. And workers need protections, recourse and freedoms to choose HOW they want to work in today’s economy.

Yes, it is an amazing opportunity to truly be a self-employed individual who can set their own hours and work flexibly with clients they choose. But that needs to be the actual choice a worker is making. Not a classification without the freedoms and benefits to accompany. Employers can’t have it both ways and classify a worker as a freelancer, but not allow them to actually freelance or dictate the terms of their hours or pay.

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Banning Books in School

Banning Books in Schools

To Kill a Mockingbird- Childhood Classic or Book to be Buried?

Banning Books in Schools

February 19th marked six years since Pulitzer Prize winning Harper Lee passed away.

But there might very soon be a time where no one knows who she is. Although it’s not the first time Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, has faced controversy, Lee’s legacy might really be in danger.

The argument over banning books in schools is not new. There has been controversy for years over what is considered appropriate material for our students to read. Questions about depiction of race and sexual innuendo in books have constantly found themselves on the docket.

But like everything in this current political climate, this recent spree of banning books in schools feels different. More divisive and potentially permanent.

 There is no question that book censorship is on the rise. Parents, activists, school board officials and lawmakers around the country are challenging books at a pace not seen in decades. The American Library Association reports that in September of last year alone, the volume of book challenges in the US was up 60% over the same month in 2020.

Although book challenges have always been a topic at School Board meetings, what’s changing and potentially scary, is not only the new frequency of these challenges, but also the tactics. Before it might have been a school district issue. But now, book banning groups are pushing the challenges to law enforcement, government houses and even state races. There have even been efforts to propose legislation allowing criminal charges to be filed against school librarians who disregard the bans.

Social media is fueling the fire. Chapters of book challenging organizations are publishing hysteria invoking graphics and google docs and spreadsheets of “questionable books”  for parents to question for their children.

Here are my concerns and thoughts on this issue.

1. It’s one thing if parents really have an issue with the content in these books. But do they really or are some parents getting swept up in the social media hysteria?

2. What about freedom of choice? Why if a parent has an issue with a particular book for their child can it not be enough for just their child to opt out? Why must they get the book banned for every child in the school/district?

3. Is opting your child out doing more potential harm than good?

Parents are stuck between a rock and a hard place. We want to shield our children from all potential harm and evil in the world. But is that realistic?

Let’s be real, even if your child misses getting exposed to these topics in the book, it doesn’t mean they will never be exposed. If anything exposing them during the structured environment provides an opportunity for you to guide the conversation. It’s an opportunity for a parent to check in and answer questions and respond to emotions raised by the issue. Whereas, if the child is opted out of that text and gets exposed at another time, they’re on their own without that built-in support system.

We must remember, today’s children are tomorrow’s adults to shape what the world will look like. What happens when we limit alternative viewpoints? Say we do eradicate topics like the Holocaust, sexual assault or the ugly parts of our country’s racial history – what happens to that sheltered generation who never learns about them? Isn’t that even more dangerous? We need to provide them with the tools to learn about the past so they can do better in the future. 

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