A Georgia Senate committee has voted unanimously to create a panel to study worker misclassification, according to the Savannah Morning News.
The Senate Insurance and Labor Committee approved Senate Resolution 11 on Wednesday after a hearing that included testimony from Savannah truckers who said that they were classified as independent contractors, rather than employers, by freight-hauling companies that serve the port of Savannah. Being classified as such leaves the workers without workers’ compensation or other benefits.
“If they are going to treat us as employees, they need to pay us as employees,” a trucker named Michael Alldyne told the committee.
A stagehand named Brian Hill said that a member of his industry recently fell while installing rigging for the Super Bowl and is left without insurance to help pay his bills.
According to the Morning News, a trucker named Carol Cauley was holding back sobs as she told the committee, “Our generation is going to suffer if we don’t get this fixed very soon.”
SR 11 creates the Senate Study Committee on Employee Misclassification, a seven-member body with the chairperson of the Insurance and Labor Committee serving as chair.
“I want to say to the folks who testified: You might wonder about whether driving all this way to the Capitol makes a difference,” Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, said at the hearing. “It’s made a difference for me to hear your stories. I’m shocked and troubled by what you have communicated to us today.”
In our workers’ compensation practice, we often see employers who classify (or more accurately misclassify) workers as independent contractors in part to avoid paying employment taxes and in part to avoid paying for workers’ compensation insurance. In Georgia, however, the classification of a worker as an independent contractor is not the sole basis for determining whether the worker was in a fact an “independent contractor” for purposes of workers’ compensation. Instead, the State Board of Workers’ Compensation looks at various factors to determine whether the worker was an “employee” or an “independent contractor.” These factors include but are not limited to the contract of employment, the duration of the contract, the manner in which the worker was paid, whether the employer could terminate the worker’s employment if they refused to accept a job, and most importantly, who controlled the time, manner, and method of the worker’s employment.
If you or a loved one were injured on the job and there is a question about whether you were an “employee” or an “independent contractor,” we strongly recommend that you call us for a free consultation at 404-917-9174