The Department of Labor’s (DOL) initiative to crack down on the practice of employee misclassification has arrived in Minnesota where a landscaping service was found to have misclassified 57 employees as independent contractors.
As part of its consent agreement with the DOL, Hawkins Tree and Landscaping Service, based in Shakopee, has been ordered to pay the misclassified workers $500,000. The agreement also states that Hawkins Tree and Landscaping will pay $22,000 in civil penalties and will be subject to regular audits to ensure compliance.
The DOL’s initiative to combat the misclassification of employees as independent laborers has created strict legal standards dealing with the fine line between mistake and abuse. According to their standards.
When evaluating whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor, courts will look at the total relationship, but a few key elements often determine the final ruling. A worker must be free to contract with other businesses, not just the one claiming the worker to be an independent contractor.
From a workers’ rights perspective, there is cause for celebration each time an unscrupulous employer is brought to justice. Kudos to DOL for increased oversight.