The General Assembly last session passed the Workplace Fraud Act of 2009. The Act grants to the Maryland Department of Labor authority to misclassification of employees as independent contractors in the construction and landscaping industries. The Act allows an employer who misclassifies an employee but does not do so knowingly to come into compliance within 45 days without penalty. Employers who "knowingly" misclassify employees, however, may be subject to a penalty of up to $5,000 per misclassified employee. The Act uses Maryland's broad definition of employee.
While a step in the right direction, the Act is limited. It only applies to landscaping and construction. There is no private right of enforcement (only the State Department of Labor has a right to enforce the law).
Employees who have been misclassified (in any industry) as independent contractors in Maryland have other remedies. They can often pursue claims for overtime, unpaid wages, unemployment and can appeal their tax treatment to the IRS. Contact me if you believe you have been misclassified as an independent contractor.
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