Misclassification of Independent Contractors Leads to $105,000 FMLA Recovery

Andersen, Tate & Carr attorneys Tyler Dillard and Liz Clack-Freeman recently represented an individual in a lawsuit alleging a violation of The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). The FMLA requires certain employers to provide employees with job-protection and unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons.

In this particular case, the client worked as an administrative assistant for a company that hired hundreds of caregivers to provide in-home healthcare to elderly patients. After working a desk job at the company for several years the client became sick and required surgery to have a tumor removed. The company promised the client time off from work for the surgery and recovery. Nevertheless, when the client tried to return to work after her surgery, the company informed her that her position had been filled.

After the company initially refused to settle the matter, we were required to file suit for the client in Federal Court. The company’s main defense was its alleged lack of FMLA coverage. Specifically, the FMLA only applies to companies with 50 or more employees, and the company claimed that its hundreds of in-home caregivers were all “independent contractors” instead of “employees” and therefore that it was not required to abide by the FMLA.

We argued that under an applicable federal guideline called the “economic realities test” the company had misclassified all of the nurses as independent contractors and that they actually satisfied the requirements of employees instead. After three years of litigation which consisted of deposing company officials, conducting written discovery, drafting more than one hundred pages of briefing, and arguing and presenting evidence at multiple Court hearings, the Court sided with us and issued an Order establishing that the company had misclassified its in-home caregivers, and that accordingly, it had more than 50 employees and was covered by the FMLA.

Following the Court’s ruling, the company no longer wanted to go to trial, and we negotiated a total settlement for the client of $105,000, which consisted of two years of the client’s pay along with $65,000 in attorneys’ fees.

Tyler Dillard and Liz-Clack Freeman represent both individuals and business owners in FMLA and FLSA cases. If you are an individual who has been terminated in violation of the FMLA, then contact us for representation. Likewise, if you are a business owner faced with an FMLA case, we will guide you through litigation and work hard to minimize your financial exposure. Similarly, if you are a business owner who has concerns regarding the classification of your workers, please contact us for a confidential analysis prior to the threat of any litigation.