what to do when your employer illegally treats you as a contractor

A reader writes:

My question relates to being a 1099 contractor for a consulting firm. I was under the impression that I would be working with the rights and privileges of an independent contractor. I was hired to be a software instructor however the organization is not yet ready to train our clients, therefore I will be working in software development/testing (not disclosed to me at time of interview, and something totally new to me.)

When working as an instructor I would work typical classroom hours, which I agreed to. Since I am not yet working in the classroom and am in the office doing development type work, I have been placed under a new supervisor and been told my hours will be longer than expected, possibly include Saturdays, and starting soon will be shifted to a very early or late schedule (7-3:30 or 3:30-midnight — without preference). The work is tedious and I am staring at a screen for hours on end — much different than being an instructor!

As an independent contractor, can they require this of me? If I have to do this development and testing, can I request to work from home? I am perturbed that my Saturdays could be gone in addition to my daily routine! In looking at the IRS website, I was under the impression if they control when/where/how I work, I am no longer a contractor but an employee.

First, some background: As you clearly know, the IRS lays out rules for when someone can be paid as a 1099 contractor and when they must be paid as an employee (which would mean the employer withholds income taxes, withholds and pays Social Security and Medicare taxes, and pays unemployment taxes).What’s tricky, though, is that it’s not a precise formula. The IRS looks at three factors:
1. Behavioral facts — Does the employer control where and how the worker does her job?
2. Financial facts — Are the business aspects of the worker’s job (such as how the worker is paid, whether expenses are reimbursed, who provides tools/supplies, etc.) controlled by the employer?
3. Type of relationship — Are there written contracts or employee-type benefits?

While this might seem reasonably straightforward, it’s important to note that the IRS says, “Businesses must weigh all these factors when determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor. Some factors may indicate that the worker is an employee, while other factors indicate that the worker is an independent contractor. There is no ‘magic’ or set number of factors that’“makes’ the worker an employee or an independent contractor, and no one factor stands alone in making this determination. Also, factors which are relevant in one situation may not be relevant in another. The keys are to look at the entire relationship, consider the degree or extent of the right to direct and control, and finally, to document each of the factors used in coming up with the determination.”

In other words, it’s not 100% clear-cut. That said — and with the caveat that I’m not a lawyer — what you’ve described certainly sounds like an employee relationship, not a contractor relationship, particularly in regard to the company controlling the hours and location where you work.

So, if that’s the case, what can you do? I’d start by talking to them. You don’t want to come at this in an aggressive “you’re breaking the law” way right out of the gate — because although it’s certainly your prerogative to do that if you want, it’s unlikely to get you a great outcome. People rarely respond well to that type of thing, and you presumably want to handle this in a way that preserves the relationship.

I’d say something like this: “I want to make sure we’re complying with the federal regulations on independent contractors. I think the current set-up is going to be problematic in that regard, especially with having me work set hours from your office, which is a key part of the test the IRS uses. One solution could be for me to work from home.”

If their answer makes it clear that they have no clue what the law on this is, then follow up with, “I want to be as helpful as I can, but I don’t want us to get into legal trouble by misclassifying the position. The IRS says that 1099 contractors are subject to certain rules, such as the company not controlling where the worker does the work. Otherwise, the company could end up with financial penalties.”

From there, a couple of things could happen:

1. They could take a look at the law and adjust how they’re handling this. This could result in you being able to work from home, etc., but it could also result in you not having any work until the classroom part of your job begins (if they’re not comfortable with the work being done from home, for instance). So make sure that you’re prepared for that possibility.

2. They could indicate that they don’t care about what the law says and change nothing. If that happens, you’ll have to decide whether you want to continue to pursue the issue or not. If you do, you could file a claim with the IRS or with your state labor agency … although be aware, of course, that if you do that, the relationship with the company isn’t likely to stay a particularly good one. It’s illegal for them to retaliate against you for filing such a claim, but the reality is that it’s generally very difficult to stay on good terms with a company after filing a legal claim against them, and retaliation can be subtle and hard to prove (and expensive to prove, as well). You might end up deciding that the benefits you’d get from filing a claim are outweighed by other factors. I’m not pre-judging that for you — just telling you to look at all this stuff before deciding how to proceed.

But start with the assumption that they just don’t realize there’s a problem (which is incredibly common), and see if a non-adversarial conversation can clear it up.

{ 34 comments… read them below }

  1. Jessa

    I’m with Alison on the choose your battle wisely thing. Just because they “can’t retaliate” doesn’t come even slightly close to the fact that most companies WILL in some form. It’s kind of human nature. If you make a big case of it, expect a couple of things, 1 is that they won’t likely do business with you again and 2 is that they’ll likely tell other people why.

    The other issue is that if you’re a contractor – they do not NEED you yet. You should ideally be consulting somewhere ELSE til they do. They don’t need to be paying you at this point. If I were management, I’d not be asking you to test software, I’d be saying, come back in 6 mos. when we have most of the product done, do a week of first line testing so you know how it works and can teach our employees – THAT should be during work hours btw. so you know exactly what the people you are going to teach are DOING with the product. You cannot teach something to people if you don’t know the processes they are using WITH it.

    I could also see them making you job shadow the FORMER system for a week so you understand the processes you are teaching them to replace.

    But if you are working now because you need the money or they need you, then they need to be paying you for what you’re doing currently as an EMPLOYEE. And switch back to the contract when you’re doing contract work.

    1. Rana

      That’s a good point. One way to push back on their demands, and reinforce your contractor status, is to look for other projects and clients to fill your time in the interim.

    1. Zahra

      Yup, I was in that position a few years ago, along with 5 other co-workers. We had been hired for a 6-months period to build a directory of all businesses in town. Our job was to prepare files for each business, then go door to door to confirm or add details. The employer dictated the place we worked from, the hours we worked, etc. It was not possible to work from home (or, as a contractor could, get someone I hired to replace me). The group had a talk with the manager, he went to check and came back to us a week or two later with an employee status.

  2. B

    This is why the majority of IT consultants work through a third-party company. You are actually an employee of that company and not an independent consultant so they can legally treat you like an employee.

    In my first IT job years ago, I was told “you are an independent contractor so you need to submit a bill every week”. I thought it was great because the pay was higher and I was young so I didn’t even care about benefits. I talked to them when I realized I was being misclassified but they wouldn’t budge until I threatened to go to the state. They made me an employee, gave me benefits and paid me back pay for the extra taxes I paid. But my relationship was never the same and I eventually left.

  3. Mike C.

    Respectfully, I find AaM’s framing of the situation to be problematic.


    If that happens, you’ll have to decide whether you want to continue to pursue the issue or not. If you do, you could file a claim with the IRS or with your state labor agency … although be aware, of course, that if you do that, the relationship with the company isn’t likely to stay a particularly good one.

    First off, if the employer is breaking the law the relationship already isn’t a good one. The employer decided that long ago and without any say or action on behalf of the LW. By going on to say that if the LW takes action s/he will likely face other forms of discrimination, you imply that the LW is responsible for future possible retaliation rather than the employer.

    I don’t believe you intend to “blame the victim” here, but your framing (that the relationship is soured once there is a report to authorities) and discussion of only the negative things that can happen – no mention of the fact that this employer is cheating out tax payers, gaining an unfair advantage over other lawful employers, and perhaps harming other individuals – has a chilling effect on your readership with regards to whistle blowing.

    I’ve been a whistle blower before, it’s not easy, and I understand that some people simply cannot make that choice. But at the same time, we need to support people who are being taken advantage of and take that brave step to say something. these practices hurt you, me, and everyone else reading this. We shouldn’t frighten them or make them think that simply asserting their legal rights is simply inappropriate or unprofessional or “aggressive”. Yes, there can be blow back, and it would be irresponsible to say nothing on that.

    But if no one speaks up, who here is going to be next to be illegally classified or have to work unpaid overtime or asked to work without proper safety gear?

    *An aside: I find it disgusting that asserting one’s rights under the law is now widely considered “aggressive”. Shouldn’t breaking the law in the first place be considered the aggressive act? If I choose to steal from someone else, aren’t I the aggressor? Even if I happen to do so while owning and running my own company?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      By going on to say that if the LW takes action s/he will likely face other forms of discrimination, you imply that the LW is responsible for future possible retaliation rather than the employer.

      I’m not saying that she would be responsible for that at all. Rather, I’m saying that she needs to be prepared for that to be the outcome, because it probably will be, and it would be irresponsible of me not to let her know that. I don’t want someone taking my advice and then being surprised by the outcome; I want them to know what likely outcomes are. And the reality is that suing your employer generally messes with the relationship. I’m not saying that it should; I’m saying that it does.

      your framing (that the relationship is soured once there is a report to authorities) and discussion of only the negative things that can happen – no mention of the fact that this employer is cheating out tax payers, gaining an unfair advantage over other lawful employers, and perhaps harming other individuals – has a chilling effect on your readership with regards to whistle blowing.

      It’s not my job or my goal here to ensure employers get reported to authorities. It’s my job and goal to give people advice on how to get the best outcomes for themselves. That’s what the point of this site is. In a case like this, only the OP can make the calculation of whether filing a legal claim will get her the best outcome, which is what I suggested she think about.

      1. Mike C.

        The way your post was worded, that possible outcome would only happen if the LW went to the authorities. Cause -> Effect.

        As for the responsibility for pointing out that Bad Things Can Happen, I am well aware of this risk and the need to mention it – though interestingly you didn’t mention the possibility of retaliation with part one of your plan. An employer who is doing this on purpose isn’t going to like the idea of an employee, er, independent contractor discussing issues like the law.

        As for your job/goal here, I’m not saying that it’s your responsibility to ensure employers are responsible for following the law, that’s the responsibility of our justice system. What I take issue with is the fact that you laid out all sorts of bad things that can happen in a situation like this and throw up your hands and say, “you need to do the calculation yourself”. You mentioned nothing about the upsides such as ensuring the LW doesn’t owe a ton of taxes at the end of the year, that the LW is being properly compensated as is fit by their legal status – benefits as well as money, and the intrinsic benefits I mentioned above. How can you say to someone, “figure this out for yourself” and only give the possible downsides?

        I don’t know your full reach, but you’re mentioned in a lot of circles I wouldn’t have expected to see you in. You’re knowledgable, experienced, respected and frankly have a good deal to do with me getting out of the toxic hellhole I used to be in for a job I love and pays me more money than I thought I’d ever make. So when you frame the situation as “maybe you might get your money, but here are a ton of bad things that are likely to happen, good luck being protected and maybe you should let this crime slide” it has a chilling effect. Your words have power and influence. Reading your post is a discouragement to report legal wrongdoing, and while it’s not always “the best outcome for ourselves” in the short term, it’s sometimes the best outcome in the long term.

        1. Lydia Navarro

          I have been suffering insomnia these past couple nights, related to discontinuing a medication. So yucky. It’s great to have reading materials that interest me right now.

          Mike, I keep coming back to this post and feel inspired by what you’ve said. My husband and I have had the argument about whether reporting an illegal 1099 is the right thing to do, and he is on the side of it being very risky and probably not worth it. I was placed on one such a 1099 while working a “bridge” job for my first couple months in my new city, and waiting for my current position to open up.

          The employer mandated which hours I worked, and on which days of the week. I was to use company equipment to do accounting and tax preparations. And I was to do all work as the company dictated. (I know tax law for small businesses rather well.) This was very bad, for several reasons. First, I did not get a W-9 nor 1099 quarterly statements. My employer at that time was knowingly skirting the law. So I will have a huge tax bill whenever the time comes to pay. I can afford it, but can many others who are not so fortunate to have two working spouses? Maybe not.

          Second, the employer used the contractor status to repeatedly threaten employees with discipline and firings. Being the accountant, I was not involved with this, but I heard all the fracas and argument, and several vulnerable young women were exploited and made to work hideous amounts of overtime in a poorly ventilated room with no water and a partially working bathroom. (The employer only hires women at quite low rates – that is another topic in and of itself, no?)

          I want to stand up for what is right because I know these kinds of businesses exist all over my city and I am tired of people getting screwed. Yes, I will burn a bridge; I will frankly torch it, or even bomb it! But this employer is not in my field. It was just a bridge job to pay the rent. It was too short to even put on a resume, and the employer’s reputation is getting pretty bad…they are losing business and the young women are talking around town. So next week when I have some downtime (and sleep of course) I will do what is right and report this employer to the IRS.

          1. Lydia Navarro

            (Sorry to be unclear. I meant I will have the huge tax bill “in theory.” I co-own a small home based enterprise and it has gotten me into the habit of making quarterly withholdings before the tax due dates. But also, how many wrongly classified “employees” are aware they need to do this?)

          2. Grace

            Lydia,
            You can confidentially report this employer to the IRS.
            There is an IRS Whistleblower Unit. In fact, the IRS will send you the forms to collect an award of up to 30% of the tax debt that the IRS finds that it is owed. The IRS and the most of the states also have sharing agreements, in which the IRS will tell a state about a tax cheat and the state will report a tax cheat to the IRS. (You can go to the IRS website and type in “whistleblower.” I’ve turned in employers each and every time to the IRS who have offered me 1099 status when I’ve interviewed with them for jobs. I’ve also reported them to the state for fraud. I’ve done the entire thing anonymously.)

        2. Grace

          Mike,
          Good post. I like your ethics and values in all of your posts.
          People can anonymously report tax cheating employers to the IRS at their Whistleblower Unit. Just go to the IRS website and type in “Whistleblower.” You can email the IRS the details (from your home computer of course) and they will email you back the award forms (they pay up to 30% of what they find they are owed). Additionally, the IRS and most of the states have sharing agreements, in which the IRS reports a tax cheat to a state revenue agency and a state will report a similar complaint to the IRS.

    2. Legal Eagle

      Reporting the company to the authorities at this point would be aggressive. Unless the company’s behavior is intensely egregious, a direct conversation is more appropriate.

      The company may not be intentionally treating OP as an employee for nefarious reasons (e.g. avoiding taxes). The company may think that it’s doing OP a favor by providing work until the classes start, not even thinking about the 1099 rules.

      OP should approach this like she’s…an independent contractor. The terms of the original agreement have changed so much that a conversation is warranted. The company may be treating OP like an employee, which changes their agreement and may implicate federal laws beyond just tax issues. The company may be perfectly reasonable about this and make changes. It would be better for both parties if that happened with government involvement.

      1. Grace

        @Legal Eagle,
        You can report companies anonymously to the government.
        For instance, the IRS has a Whistleblower Unit. You can email
        them the details of the situation. The IRS and the states have
        sharing agreements and will share that information with the state, who wants to know what monies they’re owed too. The IRS will also email a tipster the award forms, and a tipster can potentially receive up to 30% of what the government finds its owed in back taxes.
        Depending on the state, many have tough laws, and fines, for
        misclassifying employees. Mine (California) has very steep fines.
        I’m just wondering what HR and the company’s legal counsel
        are doing since they can’t figure out something as perilous as
        as misclassifying employees as IC’s.

    3. Anon

      I’m not an employment lawyer, but I know a little bit about it (disclaimer: not your lawyer, no legal advice given, no atty-client relationship hinted at or established, call a reputable lawyer for legal advice), and often a retaliation claim can be made against a company if they take negative action against you after you take a protected action (e.g. reporting them to the EEOC or Dept of Labor). Sometimes, those retal claims are even easier to prove (and/or recover on via settlement) than the underlying claim (e.g. wage & hour or sexual harassment or age discrimination). That may change the cost-benefit analysis for some people if they know that while the relationship with the company will not likely be viable if they file a claim, the company can, at least, be liable for retaliation–which, again, may be easier to prove (or at least survive a motion for summary judgment) than the underlying issue. Talk to an employment lawyer for more info on this.

    4. fposte

      This is lumping mistakes and malice together, though. Mistakes are hugely common and a lot more correctable than malice. But if you treat mistakes as if they’re malice, you’ve generally lost the chance for a good outcome in situ, which is actually the outcome most directly affected people are seeking. And you can always move to an adversarial position if collaborative doesn’t work, but you can’t move back from adversarial to collaborative, so if you start out adversarial you can miss a big opportunity for resolution.

      1. Mike C.

        In your game theory model, you’re assuming that there is no downside for having that nice little conversation. The fact of the matter is that if it’s a simple mistake, everything is nice and dandy. Awesome.

        But if it’s being done on purpose, then you’re screwed. You’ve just outed yourself as someone who knows there’s something fishy going on and knows what their rights are under the law. That makes you a ripe target for retaliation and intimidation, does it not? And you haven’t even gone to the authorities yet!

        1. fposte

          Yes, that’s a fair point, you do lose the under-the-radar option; your use of the term “whistleblower” made me think that you were talking about a non-anonymous report. I still think it’s worth the person in the actual position’s evaluating the situation at his/her own workplace, though, rather than going straight to adversariality regardless of situational factors.

      2. Grace

        @fposte,
        I normally agree with your spot-on posts about a wide-range of workplace topics. I see your point about proceeding gently regarding the employee classification issue. But I’m just wondering what kind of HR and Legal Counsel this company has, since any one worth their salt gets employment law updates all of the time on this issue and knows that they have to be compliant with strict federal and state laws. (Plus they’ve been skipping out on Workers’ Compensation and a whole plethora of other laws they’re required to follow.)

        1. fposte

          I haven’t worked much in most people’s “average” workplace, and it does show sometimes! I’ve mostly worked in places where this kind of stuff could happen fairly easily, because the organization is either so large that day-to-day hiring/labor stuff isn’t handled by HR and legal, or it’s so small that there isn’t any HR and legal. It sounds like you’re a lot more versed in employer legalities than I am, but I would imagine the WC and other problems as fruits of the poisonous tree–the OP got submitted as a contractor and therefore is being processed and handled as one on the bureaucratic side, hence no WC, taxes, benefits, etc.

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          Loads and loads of companies could easily have this happen without HR/Legal involved — either because they have no dedicated HR/Legal (or because their HR is one person) or because they’re set up in such a way that it would be easy for a manager to create this arrangement without HR knowing about it. In fact, the majority of employers fall in this category — most small businesses and tons of nonprofits, for example.

          1. Grace

            I always recommend to small businesses, and others, that joining their state’s Chamber of Commerce is well worth the yearly membership because of the updates on employment law, employee manuals that can be purchased and designed for a specific business, legally required poster and pamphlets, and of course access to employment legal counsel to answer compliance questions. It’s a lot better than getting sued for non-compliance or facing down government investigators/auditor and their fines.

  4. Runon

    Usually you can report an employer like this anon to agencies. I know in many states the Unemployment people want to make sure that everyone is paying taxes. Because if you get fired and you try to apply for benefits and you were missclassified you will get unemployment, and then they are going to have to go back and collect all that money from the employer and do a big audit. It is much easier to make sure everyone is legally paying taxes up front. But if someone reports it they can add that business to their regular auditing list and (depending on the state) get around to checking their books and making sure everything looks good before it comes to that.

  5. Jamie

    I was hired to be a software instructor however the organization is not yet ready to train our clients, therefore I will be working in software development/testing

    I’m sorry, what? That’s like hiring me to be the IT, but wait the computers haven’t been delivered yet so while you’re waiting we need you to fix the roof. Or teach interpretive dance. Or work the deck on a crab boat.

    Seriously – those are not the same jobs – the hell?

    1. OP

      And do it on Saturday. And your boss is now that guy in the building next door, not the person who interviewed you and called himself your supervisor. And when you do request off on a Saturday you’re reminded everyone else is working Saturdays.

      1. Meganly

        When you’re a contractor, you don’t request a day off. You inform them that you’re not available that day.

  6. Somethings Never Change

    As I sat here and read this whole thread, I became nauseated because I am a paralegal, and the attorney I work for is the one whom is demanding we sign a contract indicating we are independent contractors when in all reality we are employees. He isn’t the first attorney I have been employed by that has done this. Of course it isn’t just me he is doing it to, it is the entire staff. Receptionist, Bookkeeper, the list goes on and on. What makes it worse is he is a former Judge as well. I have been through this so many times before, that I know my rights, and I’m still trying to figure out what to do. I love working in the legal field, but I have morals that I stand by, and what infuriates me the most is that he is an attorney, a former Judge, he knows better than to do what he is doing, but has the ability to intimidate others, and twist it around, when I am standing there looking straight through him and he is lying to all the others, and has done it to all his previous employees. Obviously, before I was knee deep into it before I realized what he was and had been doing all this time, I felt an obligation to give the other employees not only the paperwork describing what the IRS considers an employee v. an independent contractor, along with a copy of the State Bars Rules and Procedures an attorney must follow according to Ethics. Not all attorneys do this, but I cannot express the frustration I am going through after having to experience it after being lied to and intimidated by the attorney who is knowingly breaking the law. My problem is I find out the truth after the severe damage has been done. They don’t just let us watch them fill out the quarterly statements, they wait until we leave for the day, fill it out and personally take it to the mailbox. After being messed over so many times, I am tired of dealing with the same mess over and over, but this time, I can’t just walk away and not do something. Like I said I have morals, and feel obligated to try and help those who didn’t/don’t know the truth, that are still working there. Someone has to stand up to this lying, cheating them out of money, intimidating them as if he still wears a black robe. Am I scared? Heck yes I am, but I know deep down I have/am doing the morally and politically correct thing to do. I have been working in the legal field for fart to long to allow any further attorneys think they can continue to do this over and over, and not be held accountable for what they are doing. I don’t know what else to do, to allow me to feel rest assured he takes responsibility for his unlawful actions. I just need some sort of advice, or hopefully a response telling me it is worth fighting this battle. I just cannot get it out of my mind that he had the nerve to insult my intelligence lying to me as if it didn’t even have two thoughts about it. I just have to do the best I can with all the proof I gathered up to make a case against him. I just feel as he sucks the life out of us and acts as if HE is above doing what is legally and ethically right, that he took an oath to do. What makes him any different than the rest of us who have to follow the laws and regulations set forth in regards to any matter that has rules and procedures we all are held accountable to when it comes to the same law he is breaking? I guess that this time around I thought he was different than so many other attorneys/former Judges I have worked for??? Thank all of you for reading my long winded ranting. I just don’t know what else I can do to stop this kind of behavior he insists on doing to dedicated employees over and over again.

  7. Ursula

    OP, as a contractor, do you actually have a contract that you and the consulting firm signed? What does it say?

  8. Grace

    @Somethings:

    Drop the dime on the attorney to the IRS Whistleblower Unit for an audit. You can email the IRS the details. They will also email you the award forms. Do the same with the state government. (If you’ve having a hard time finding the head of the agency, contact the governor.) Contact all of the taxing agencies. (The IRS and the states have sharing agreements about employers owing back
    taxes.) Contact your state’s Unemployment Insurance, Workers’ Comp Enforcement, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. Also line up a good employment law attorney. It sounds
    like you have a class action wage and hour case. If you want free
    legal advice, post your question on a place like www dot avvo dot com

  9. L.

    I am assuming that the software developer who wrote this is young and wet behind the ears, and perhaps a bit desperate. In this economy, this is quite understandable.

    The idea that employers don’t know the law in this regard is nonsense. They know the law. They are taking advantage of fear, in a vicious economy. I agree with above comments that there is no relationship here worth preserving, and I believe that the worker would do a service not only to himself or herself, but to American workers by carefully documenting the situation and taking full legal action.

    The person writing, and other such victims, can also file to make sure that their Social Security and Medicare accounts are credited for the amounts the employer did not pay.

    http://www.irs.gov/uac/Misclassified-Workers-to-File-New-Social-Security-Tax-Form

  10. Jaeson

    I worked for a small company for several months….while they were all friendly, chirpy, wonderful people, the owner was a psycho. They had us all sign a contact saying we were 1099’s, even though when the job was offered they acted as if we would be employees. During the course of the work we were subjected to indoor spray painting, (we complained–then were yelled at), hours micromanaged by the boss onsite, and they set our hours. We were given no paid breaks (a requirement in my state if you work over 8 hours), no overtime (I worked over 8 several days of the week), and no lunches. People would do lunch at their designated location the majority of the time, and were worried about getting the right amount of hours in, so much so that they didn’t even go to lunch half the time. When tax time rolled around, we owed into the thousands. What is worse is that whenever the boss said “employer,” they’d stop and say “oops I mean independent contractor” they knew exactly what they was doing. I eventually got fed up with their bs….. I sent papers to the IRS, the DOL, the state DOL, the DLSE, etc. Don’t be afraid…it is all anonymous, if you have questions about an employer. Do it.

  11. anne

    I agree with Jessa that it would be the consequences of such action. Also there is no harm if you choose your battle wisely.BTW, if anyone needs to fill out a “1099 Form ”, I found a blank fillable form here: http://goo.gl/iI91Je. This site PDFfiller also has some tutorials on how to fill it out and a few related tax documents that you might find useful.

  12. Sue

    I have a situation I need some input on. I am a dog groomer. I was trained as an apprentice about 8-9 yrs ago. I moved to another state 3 yrs ago, and began working for a mobile grooming company. This company provides a grooming van to use for my work. I supply tools, talent, wash my own towels, supply my own shampoo. They pay me every two weeks commissions and tips only.
    I recently decided to purchase my own vehicle to groom from. As soon as this lady found out I was going to work on my own, she began sending out snippets of text messages she had saved between her and I when I was having a problem with a dog or client. Basically letting her know I needed more time, or asking her how she would like something handled. Then…4 days into my pay period, she decided she no longer had work for me. I continued on with working for some people who wanted me to continue grooming their dogs. These were folks only I had ever groomed and people I had cultivated as clients. I have had streams of people calling me wanting to to continue being their groomer. I wont turn them down, as some I have known for a couple of years and they are friends.
    This woman has decided that I owe her 8 towels (I have been washing my own towels for 6 months, my soap, my water) and a key her husband decided I needed to carry in my pocket in case I locked myself out of the van (only works on the door, not ingnition). I put the key in the console of the van, because I do not always have pockets and thought it sort of odd he would do this. Now that I am not working from their vans anymore, she is withholding my last commission payment which includes about 100 worth of tips I received from those clients.
    Is this a legal thing for her to do? Its almost 700.00. Shes very smug about it. The thing is, she NEVER calls me. Only texting. I couldnt get other work as an independent while working for her, since she would give me appointments only for the next day; and emailed to me at 10:00 pm on average. I have bent over backwards to help these people build their clientele..,they have fired at LEAST 10 groomers in the 3 yrs I have been there. I have had to pick up the slack when they do this, and listen to her complain to me about it. They go out of the country every summer….I groom all of her personal clients dogs. I just want to know: What is my recourse? I can afford to pay my rent and have clients coming out my ears at this point…and I am only 5 days into my new business. Anyone think I should just tell her to stuff those bills one at a time? Or should I do something else just on principle?

  13. Sue Vehlow

    My question also is perplexing regarding the employee/contractor status. I work for an independent photo agency that sells 360 virtual tours as an Independent Contractor. Here are my questions regarding 1099 status:

    1) They require a phone meeting EVERY DAY! Am I required to do this? I find it very tedious to “check in” every day and somewhat insulting since I have been repping for approximating 20 years for various products/companies. I am their leading salesperson as well.

    2) They recently sent a 15 page form requiring a massive amount of personal information, i.e., birthday, spouse name, wedding anniversary????, (seriously!) drivers license no. I cannot find anywhere in the IRS definition of IC, where it requires anything other than the SS. They told me that if I don’t complete the form, it will hold up my commission.

    I have been working for them for a little over a year…..Your input is appreciated! Thank you!

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