The Scope of Employment in California Lawsuits

Anyone who has worked at any job has likely seen someone get injured on the job. Whether we are talking about an employee falling and injuring an ankle, or a factory worker who is in a fatal accident, accidents happen all the time.  Not only do accidents happen to employees themselves, but employees also cause accidents.

employment Lawsuits LAOne question that often arises is when an employee is injured at an off-site location the employer does not want to compensate them because of what is known as an employee classification issue.  If a worker is an independent contractor, as opposed to a statutory employee, they will not be entitled to workers’ compensation, overtime pay, benefits, and other protections afforded to employees.As our Riverside employment attorneys can explain, employee misclassification is a major problem, and it results in millions of dollars in unpaid wages in our area alone. One of the more prevalent cases of this deals with the jobs in our new economy.  Many will read reports that jobs are up in an area, and unemployment is therefore down.  This is good thing, generally speaking.  However, when we take a closer look at the type of jobs, going beyond the numbers, we see that many of these jobs are not the traditional forms of employment we have seen in years past.  Many of these jobs are part of what is now called the on-demand economy.

Many people are no longer unemployed, because they are working at jobs such as ride sharing, on-demand handymen (and women), a person who can assemble IKEA furniture and many other similar jobs.  Basically a person needs some type of service and picks up his or smart phone and uses an app to get a person to perform that service. Service providers have their own app and learn when and where the service is needed. If they are first to respond, the job is theirs.  The app likely has the credit card of the customer, and the worker eventually gets paid.

The issues arise when there is a question as to whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. The company will argue that the worker is not an employee, and the worker will argue the opposite.  This has been the basis for many misclassification lawsuits in Southern California.

As time goes on, we are going to be seeing more of these creative types of employment.  According to a news article form the Los Angeles Times, Wal-Mart is now having workers deliver items to customers on their way home from work as part of an effort to keep up with Amazon and their same day delivery.  The company says these workers will be paid for their deliveries, and the program is an entirely optional one for employees.  The company says that employees can make extra money for doing something they were already doing anyway – driving to and from work.

While there is no question these workers are employees while at the store, how will their role be interpreted while delivering to customers at home? They will not likely be on the clock, and they may be paid per item.  While there is nothing wrong with this plan, and many employees are eager to do it, it will be interesting to see what happens if something goes wrong.

Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.

Additional Resources:

Wal-Mart employees will now deliver your online orders on their way home from work, June 2, 2017, Los Angeles Times

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