If a company offers certain types of health, disability, or pension benefits to its employees, federal law requires that the company meet certain standards regarding the offered benefit plans and that the company not wrongfully deny an employee benefits to which they are entitled. This is because the government recognizes that employees rely on these important benefits and should be able to receive them when the benefits are expected. One particularly important benefit that an employee should not be wrongfully denied is long-term disability insurance coverage.
In order to have rights regarding long-term disability benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), you must first and foremost be considered an “employee” of the company offering the benefits. This may seem fairly straightforward, as the company hired you to do a job and, therefore, you believe you should be considered to be an employee. However, many situations can be more complex and individuals who become ill or injured might find themselves denied the long-term disability benefits on which they were depending. This is because many workers are classified as independent contractors.
Independent contractors do not have the same rights as employees under the law, and this includes the right to ERISA long-term disability benefits. While some individuals are rightfully classified as independent contractors, others are misclassified as such and actually should be considered employees. While in some situations, a misclassification is an honest mistake, some employers may deem you an independent contractor to try to avoid compliance with a variety of laws, including ERISA. If you suspect that you may have been misclassified as an independent contractor and therefore wrongfully denied long-term disability or other benefits, you should consult with an experienced ERISA attorney regarding your rights.
Employers do not have the discretion to simply decide how to classify workers. Instead, the Department of Labor (DOL) sets out criteria to examine for the employee vs. independent contractor determination. Overall, the test comes down to how much control a company exerts over you while you perform your work. If you are classified as an independent contractor, some signs that you may actually be an employee include your company doing any of the following:
In addition, if you do not generally operate as your own business or you have no specific certification, education, training, or license to perform the work needed, you may be considered to be an employee of the company. This determination is critical to ensure you receive all of the long-term disability benefits and more that you are entitled to receive under the law.
At Michael Bartolic, LLC, we understand how to identify misclassification as an independent contractor and other signs that you have been wrongfully denied benefits under ERISA. We can evaluate your situation and stand up for your rights to long-term disability benefits if needed. Please do not hesitate to call our office for a free consultation with an experienced ERISA long-term disability lawyer today at 312-635-1600.