The gig economy has opened many doors for workers in West Virginia and across the country. Flexible hours and working conditions are enticing benefits to working nontraditional jobs, such as making deliveries, working in the many phases of construction, and offering specialized services like accounting or tutoring. However, the gig economy has also increased violations in wage and overtime laws due to misclassification of employees as contract workers.

What’s the difference between employees and contract workers?

A nonexempt employee must receive a legal minimum wage and the opportunity for overtime pay. Contract workers, on the other hand, are not considered employees and so do not qualify for these and other benefits. In another state, gig workers for a car wash company are seeking remuneration from the company owner who classified them as contractors in violation of applicable laws.

The employees respond to requests through an app for at-home car washing and detailing services. In addition to using their own cars and paying for gas, the workers also purchase uniforms, pay for mandated insurance and supply their own cleaning equipment. The company also charges them a fee whenever a customer uses a credit card to tip them. Employees apparently work six days a week for as long as 10 hours but never receive overtime pay. A class action lawsuit will determine if they will receive thousands in unpaid wages and other compensation.

What happens next?

While some states place more restrictions on employers for how they can classify employees, the fact is that workers who are wrongly classified as contractors may be missing out on benefits they have earned and deserve. West Virginia employees would do well to learn whether their employers have correctly classified them. An attorney with experience in employment law can assist them with taking the next appropriate steps.