Misclassification and Antidiscrimination: An Empirical Analysis
57 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2016 Last revised: 20 Apr 2017
Date Written: 2017
This article investigates misclassification and antidiscrimination. Misclassification is employers' practice of classifying workers as independent contractors whom the law would categorize as employees. Misclassified workers are exempt from most federal antidiscrimination statutes, unless they file a discrimination lawsuit and seek reclassification by the court for purposes of the litigation. Thus, employers may use their power to classify to write workers out of the law, and workers who cannot win a misclassification challenge cannot gain access to antidiscrimination rights. Little is known about which workers are misclassified, however, or about the outcomes of misclassification challenges in court. Drawing on existing and newly collected data, including ten years of misclassification decisions in cases brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,this article shows that women and people of color are overrepresented in the occupations at highest risk for misclassification. The article also raises questions about courts' role in checking employers' power to classify, as many of the workers who are most at risk for misclassification and discrimination do not appear to be filing suit, and many courts' handling of misclassification challenges is deeply flawed.
Keywords: workers, employment, employee classification, independent contractors, discrimination, workforce, employment law
JEL Classification: J00, J23, J29, J31, J38, J70, J71, J78, K00, K31, M12, M50, M51, M59
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation