Am I An Independent Contractor or An Employee?

One of the biggest problems that many people have is figuring out if you are actually an employee or not. “But I get paid!” I can hear you say, “I have to be an employee! I have a job!” Believe me, I can understand your confusion at this question. The truth is, just because you get paid doesn’t necessarily mean that you are an employee. While technically you may be employed by a company to produce either items or a service, you may not be an employee by definition.

An employee is technically someone who generally only works for one company. This, however, isn’t the only factor. An employee will also work specific hours that are set forth by the employer at this employer’s place of business. Many employees are welcomed and encouraged to join a union. They are also generally able to apply for things like benefits through work and unemployment if let go. An employee is also covered by federal laws which set a minimum wage and overtime laws. One of the biggest differences is that the net pay that an employee receives is after most taxes have been taken out by the employer.

Alternately, an independent contractor can work for multiple companies doing specialized work which they have had previous education for. They will often work from home and so can work any hours they choose as long as deadlines are met. There are not unions that allow independent contractors and cannot apply for unemployment if let go. There are also not employment benefits like health insurance for an independent contractor. There is no protection that assures they receive minimum wage and there is no overtime pay. Also, taxes are not taken out for things like social security and Medicare, so these must be paid separately.

The difference that we are most concerned about is that independent contractors cannot apply for worker’s compensation. Where an employee can apply for worker’s compensation benefits if hurt on the job, an independent contractor does not have this ability. If they are hurt on the job, the treatment falls completely to them and no compensation will be provided. Are you an independent contractor or an employee? If you are still not sure, check with those you work for. It can mean the difference between paying for treatment yourself and calling Collier!

Am I Getting the Right Workers' Comp Benefits?

The world of worker’s compensation is a confusing one. Each state has their own laws and sometimes it can seem like these laws change on an almost daily basis. Although many people believe that once you are hurt you can spend a great deal of time reading or pursuing a hobby, this often is not true. You are normally focusing on getting better and back to work and so you don’t have much time that is spent lounging around as most people imagine. Even if you did have copious amounts of time to devote to something, it most likely would not be the state laws for worker’s compensation. Also, if you did set your sights on understanding the ins and outs of these laws, you would have to have quite a bit of time. Having a thorough knowledge of things like this takes years.

Knowing if you are getting the right benefits for your specific case is something that is best left to a professional attorney. While you can collect quite a bit of information from books and the internet, this may be either outdated or incorrect. Unfortunately, sometimes it is both. It is also rare that any location has every bit of information available to the public unless it is an extremely common topic. As with anything else, it can take ages to collect vast amounts of information regarding worker’s compensation. This information is constantly changing as well, and so it takes years and years to really have a firm grasp of what benefits the laws provide you for each different state in this country.

Luckily for you, Trey Collier has had years to devote to this exact subject. After going to school for three different degrees, he also spent time learning both sides of worker’s compensation cases through his legal career. He began by working for a law firm which supported employers and insurance companies. He soon realized that he preferred the other side of the battlefield, however, and put all of his knowledge and experience toward fighting for you. This means that he knows how both sides work intimately. It is this information that he puts to good use each and every day to benefit those who have been hurt. Call today and see just how beneficial Trey Collier can be for you!

What Disability Benefits am I Entitled to? - Part 1

Getting hurt is never a good time. It is naturally going to be painful, sometimes mentally as well as physically. The worry that you feel about how you will be able to support yourself and your family is overwhelming when you cannot get to work. This is especially true if you have no real time frame for recovery from your doctors. This worry can be made even worse if you don’t know anything about worker’s compensation. We want to help ease your concerns, so here is what you can expect from a worker’s compensation claim.

Each state has different laws in regards to worker’s compensation. For this article, we will be focusing on North Carolina laws. In North Carolina, the benefits primarily cover economic losses instead of things like pain and suffering like some other areas provide. If you do have an injury that you can claim for worker’s compensation, you can expect certain things to be provided for you or for you to be reimbursed for any payments you needed to make in the course of medical treatment.

In North Carolina, either your employer or their insurance company is required to pay for medical treatment that will heal the injury, relieve your pain, or lessen your disability. The good thing is that there is no co pay, no deductible, and no law stating you must miss work for at least certain worker’s compensation to be awarded to you. You are also entitled to a second opinion if you do not agree with the first consultation with a medical professional.

If a doctor has written you out of work for more than a week, you are completely entitled to Temporary Disability Benefits. These can last for up to 500 weeks. If you are written out of work for three weeks past the first one, then you will also get compensation for the first week as well. This is generally paid at two thirds your normal weekly salary. If you are able to return to some work, then you are entitled to two thirds the difference in your wages for the time of recovery, also for up to 500 weeks. If you are a law enforcement officer or teacher, however, you may be eligible for full salary.

There are other benefits to which you are entitled. Read the next blog to see what else Collier will fight to get you.

Challenging the Wording of Workers Compensation Laws - Part Two

Previously, we gave you an overview of a case from a few years ago which went to the Supreme Court. This case, known as Sandifer v U.S. Steel, was about the compensation that the steel workers believed they deserved payment for time spent changing into their personal protective equipment. The main obstacle was that a labor law stated employers did not need to compensate for time spent changing clothes. The workers believed this to be outdated for many different reasons. What do you think?

Sandifer argued for compensation on the grounds that the wording of the original labor laws was ambiguous. The phrase “changing clothes” may be interpreted in different ways depending upon the definition of clothing that one adheres to. Two different dictionaries were brought into the courtroom which gave different meanings to the word. One defined clothes as “covering for the human body” while the other defined it as items “worn for decency or comfort”. Due to the competing explanations of this seemingly simple word, Sandifer was able to bring an entire case which many people thought would be open and shut all the way to the Supreme Court.

U.S. Steel argued that the lower courts were mistakenly focusing on the individual words instead of the phrase of “changing clothes”. According to these courts, this phrase meant adding an item to what was already worn. By defining clothing as anything that covered the human body, this meant that any particle which was on top of the body was then clothing. This would include things like jewelry, medical braces, hair accessories, glasses, and the like. If glasses were to be identified as clothing, then this would mean that every time someone takes off their reading glasses, they are “changing clothes”. Naturally, this wouldn’t be something a native English speaker would think to say of someone simply removing a pair of glasses.

In the end, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of U.S. Steel that the workers should not receive compensation for time spent putting on their personal protective equipment. This is based off of the Fair Labor Standards Act section 203(o) which was interpreted to cover any type of change or addition of clothing. Do you agree with this ruling? Workers compensation covers many different areas, but thanks to this ruling we have at least one more answer of what to expect in regards to payment.

Challenging the Wording of Workers Compensation Laws - Part One

In 2003, an interesting case was brought before the Supreme Court. This case can be researched at depth online, but we will offer you a summary because we feel it is important to bring law interpretations to the general public. This case, Clifton Sandifer v. United States Steel Corporation, brought into light the interesting point of how times change yet laws sometimes do not. Sandifer et al believed certain laws should be changed to reflect how expectations in the workforce change with time and improvements in the industry. Let’s see what you think about this case.

This case began when workers at the United States Steel Corporation brought a class action lawsuit up against their company. Their claim was based off the clause in the Fair Labor Standards Act which states that “the period of time during which a covered employee must be paid begins when the worker engages in a principal activity”. They had argued that the safety gear which they had to put on was part of a principal activity. This is because often, these workers would have to change their entire outfits to be correctly protected during the job. These safety regulations were required by work and therefore are a critical part of their day. The issue arose, however, that section 203(o) states that “an employer need not compensate a worker for time spent in ‘changing clothes’”. This brought about the question that came to the Supreme Court: What exactly is the definition of “changing clothes”?

One of the main arguments which the workers brought forth was the amount of time it took to change into their personal protective equipment, or PPE. Workers stated they were kept track of by a time card at the entry to the plant. The workers would be expected to arrive anywhere from twelve to twenty minutes early in order to don the correct outer wear and would be marked late and have their pay docked if this was not the case. The issue, however, was they were only paid for the eight hours they stood at their post and not from the time they clocked in. If overtime is paid correctly at one and one half times the regular rate, this would obviously add up to quite a bit over each pay period.

Do you think Sandifer makes a valid point or do you believe that U.S. Steel Corp. is in the right by not compensating them by the wording of the law? Read on to part two and see if the Supreme Court agrees with you or not.