can independent contractors sue for wrongful termination

Can independent contractors sue for wrongful termination in California? In some ways, yes.

But your lawsuit against someone you work for as an independent contractor will likely look very different from a lawsuit an employee can initiate against their employer.

State and federal labor laws give employees several rights against wrongful termination, but independent contractors’ rights come almost entirely from the agreements they negotiate with the individuals they work for. 

The wrongful termination attorneys at the Workplace Rights Law Group can help you navigate the tricky world where labor law meets contract rights.

We can help ensure that an unlawful end to an independent contractor job gets handled correctly, and we can see to it that you are adequately compensated. Call us at 818-446-1045 today. 

Who Is an Independent Contractor? 

Many people think the 1099 form they receive for their work-related income makes them independent contractors, but a 1099 does not define your work status. Under California law, you are typically an independent contractor only if the following elements apply: 

  • That the work you do is free from the control and direction of the hiring company in connection with the performance of the work (under the contract and in actual practice);
  • The work you do for the entity that hired you is outside the usual course of that entity’s business (e.g., the entity’s business is selling shoes and you come in to retile the entity’s floors); and
  • You are customarily engaged in an independent business, trade, or occupation, and the entity hired you to perform work that is part of your independent business

The above factors are part of California’s independent contractor “ABC” test. California’s Fair Housing and Employment Act (FEHA) also bases your independent contractor status on whether you supply your own tools when performing work for the hiring entity. 

Speak to an employment attorney at Workplace Rights Law Group about whether you qualify as an independent contractor.

If you are an independent contractor, you do not have a right to workers’ compensation, sick leave, overtime, minimum wage, or unemployment benefits. And their rights under the law can be more limited then employees’ rights.

But many employers are notorious for misclassifying their full-blown employees as independent contractors to avoid their legal obligations.

One of our attorneys can help you determine whether you can claim wrongful termination under one of the several state or federal anti-discrimination or anti-retaliation laws. 

Can Independent Contractors Sue for Wrongful Termination? 

So, can a 1099 employee sue for wrongful termination? Suppose an employee receives a 1099 but does not have all the independent contractor characteristics listed above. In that case, they can file a wrongful termination complaint with the California Civil Rights Department or in civil court. 

If a worker fits the definition of an independent contractor, they can bring a breach of contract claim against a hiring entity that drops them. Your right to sue depends on the specific terms of your contract, which can be written, oral, or implied

If the entity that hired you did not comply with contract terms before dismissing you, you have a right to receive legal relief to make you whole. This relief could include the following: 

  • Compensation for financial losses caused by the hiring entity’s breach,
  • Reasonable liquidated damages that you and the hiring entity agreed on, 
  • Payment for any services you already provided,
  • Cancellation of the remainder of the contract, or 
  • A court order for the hiring entity to perform the rest of the agreement. 

A hiring entity can also be liable for the above remedies if they engaged in harassment against an independent contractor that was based on sex, race, color, religion, marital status, genetics, nationality, disability, gender, age, veteran status, or military status.

Get in Contact with a California Wrongful Termination Lawyer Today

Knowing whether you are an independent contractor or an employee can be tricky. And knowing if you have a right to sue for wrongful termination is also challenging.

But Workplace Rights Law Group has decades of award-winning experience. They can help you get the compensation you deserve.

We serve employees all over the State of California, and we are ready to champion your right to be paid what you are owed.

Call us at 818-446-1045 or contact us online for help. 


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