U.S. and California law provide very specific discrimination protections for employees who have historically been the greatest targets. Typically, these are women, racial minorities, older workers and those with disabilities. We’ve come a long way in the last 50- to- 60-years in ensuring California workers aren’t fired, demoted, transferred or miss out on key benefits because of prejudice by their employers. However, a key component of those protections is the worker’s classification. Those who are classified as “employees” are entitled to a host of employment law protections – everything from minimum wages and regular mandated breaks to reasonable accommodations if one one’s pregnancy requires restrictions. Los Angeles employment attorneys often have to explain another important protection denied independent contractors: Anti-discrimination laws.
Approximately 1 in 7 jobs in America is classified as independent contractor or some other contingent-employment arrangement. This amounts to millions of Americans – roughly 14 percent in all, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – whose work as freelancers, consultants, temporary agency laborers and contractors who are denied protections against discrimination for their age, race, gender, religion and disability. So for instance, while most employees can expect to be protected from age discrimination from their employer when they reach the age of 40, a freelancer has no such guarantee.
There are some analyses that suggest the unprotected workforce could be even larger. For instance, the California-based Staffing Industry Analysts recently released information indicating roughly 30 percent of American workers could be counted in the “contingent workforce.” The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission makes it clear that anti-discrimination statutes exempt independent contractors as well as those working for employment agencies. Sometimes, anti-discrimination protections depend on the number of employees a company has. Continue reading