DIRECTV, the nation’s largest satellite TV provider, won’t be able to avoid complaints that it underpaid technicians by claiming they were independent contractors, after a recent federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision.
The lawsuit was originally filed in 2016 by two DIRECTV technicians in federal district court in Maryland, claiming that the company had failed to pay them overtime, as required by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and Maryland state law. The district court dismissed their claims after DIRECTV argued that the technicians were not employees, but rather independent contractors, who would not be due overtime under the FLSA.
The appeals court found that the lower court had incorrectly applied the legal standard for determining whether a worker who is classified as an independent contractor is actually an employee, and therefore entitled to certain legal protections. Though the technicians had been designated as independent contractors of DirectSat, an intermediary company that performs installation work for DIRECTV, the court found that in actuality they were jointly employed by DIRECTV and DirectSat, because DIRECTV had direct control over their day-to-day job duties as well as their hiring, firing and compensation.
It’s not uncommon for employers to try to avoid paying workers overtime and other earned benefits by wrongly classifying them as independent contractors, rather than employees. If you think you’ve been denied your rightful compensation by an employer, call the Employment Litigation attorneys at Sommers Schwartz to review your case.