Today's workforce in Texas is rapidly changing with an increasing number of people engaging in contract work. While there are many more people who are working as independent contractors, the laws that protect people against workplace discrimination and harassment have not caught up to the changes.
Contractors are not protected under the federal laws that protect workers against discrimination and harassment. If they face discrimination or harassment at their jobs, they have little recourse. Some states, including New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, have extended protections against discrimination and harassment to contract workers. In most states, however, independent contractors are largely unprotected.
More employers are classifying workers as contractors even when they might not truly be. Some employers may do this in an effort to avoid paying payroll taxes and to place the risk on the workers instead of on themselves. Independent contractors may be able to protect themselves by insisting on the inclusion of anti-discrimination and harassment provisions in their contracts.
People who are classified as independent contractors and who have been the victims of harassment or discrimination at their jobs may want to talk to experienced employment law attorneys who may analyze the people's jobs to determine whether or not they are classified correctly. If the workers are not truly independent in how they perform their jobs or control their time, the attorneys may agree to take their cases. The attorneys may be able to file lawsuits against the employers for misclassifying the workers as well as for the discrimination or harassment that their clients have faced. Employment attorneys may help their clients to file complaints with the relevant agencies, including the EEOC.