On November 21, 2011, Riggan Law Firm, LLC, working in connection with The Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley, filed a class/collective action lawsuit on behalf of a group of cable installers against their employer, Integrity Communications, LLC, a Sikeston, Missouri-based company that performs installation of cable, phone, and internet service for major U.S. cable companies such as Charter Communications, New Wave Communications, Mediacom, and others. The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, alleges violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), and Missouri law for Integrity's alleged failure to pay proper wages and benefits to the class member cable installers. Integrity treats its cable installers as independent contractors (instead of employees), and in doing so, violates the law, the suit alleges.
At the inception of the lawsuit, Integrity and related defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss, arguing that the cable installers are independent contractors as a matter of law, and therefore, that the class members cannot recover for unpaid overtime, unpaid minimum wage, or benefits of employment. Integrity took the position that the lawsuit could not proceed as a matter of law. In an Order dated August 17, 2012, the Court rejected all of the arguments raised in Integrity's Motion to Dismiss. The Court found that the plaintiff class members had stated a viable legal claim/theory, and that it was premature for the Court to make a determination that the class members are independent contractors as a matter of law because the lawsuit alleges a number of facts that, if true, would tend to show that the cable installers are in fact employees who are entitled to the wages and benefits of employment that are sought to be recovered in the suit. Specifically, the suit alleges that the defendants directed and controlled when the cable installers reported to scheduled jobs, where to report, when the workday ended, and how to perform necessary services. The suit also alleges that the defendants required the cable installers to attend mandatory training meetings for which they did not receive compensation.
In ruling on the defendants' Motion to Dismiss, the Court noted that there is a six-factor test used to determine whether a given worker (or group of workers) is, legally speaking, an employee or an independent contractor. Those factors include: (1) the nature and degree of the alleged employer's control as to the manner in which the work is to be performed; (2) the alleged employee's opportunity for profit or loss depending upon his managerial skills; (3) the alleged employee's investment in equipment or materials required for his task, or his employment of workers; (4) whether the service rendered requires a special skill; (5) the degree of permanency and duration of the working relationship; and (6) the extent to which the service rendered is an integral part of the alleged employer's business.
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If you are a worker who is classified as an independent contractor, and you do not receive overtime pay, minimum wage, or benefits of employment, the company that you are working for may be violating the law. If you want to assert a claim for unpaid wages/benefits, or if you want to better understand your legal rights, you should contact a St. Louis wage and hour lawyer.