Ohio law requires that every employee working for a person, firm or corporation under a contract of hire be covered by workers’ compensation, and provides that every employee who is injured in the course of and arising out of employment is entitled to compensation and medical benefits as provided by the Workers’ Compensation Act. While the law is designed to make sure that all Ohio employees receive the benefits provided by law if they are injured on the job, some employers try to avoid their obligations by claiming that workers are not employees, but independent contractors. These employers may require you to sign an agreement which states that you are an independent contractor and not covered by the employer’s workers’ compensation plan.
The misclassification of employees as “independent contractors” is a serious problem, which has begun to receive attention from state governments, as well as labor and industry groups in Ohio and across the nation. As one national industry association has pointed out, when employers misclassify workers as independent contractors, they avoid paying premiums for workers’ compensation and unemployment compensation, and they do not withhold income, Social Security or Medicare tax payments. By avoiding all of these costs, they gain an unfair advantage over competitors who do not seek to evade their legal responsibilities. A 2009 study conducted by Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray estimated that each year more than 90,000 Ohio workers are improperly classified as independent contractors, resulting in unpaid workers’ compensation premiums which may amount to more than $200 million a year.
Have you been injured on the job only to have your employer tell you that you could not claim workers’ compensation because you are an independent contractor? If so, all is not lost. Even if you have signed a so-called “independent contractor agreement” the facts in each particular case will determine whether you are really an employee entitled to workers’ compensation. If the facts show that you are an employee, the Industrial Commission may disregard an independent contractor agreement and find based on court decisions or provisions in the workers’ compensation law that you are an employee and entitled to workers’ compensation.
Do you have questions regarding your entitlement to workers’ compensation? If so, the attorneys here at Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer will be happy to assist you.