Dem bill targets misclassification of workers

Democrats are looking to protect low-wage workers who are misclassified as independent contractors so their companies don’t have to pay them as much.

The issue of misclassified workers — who are often denied minimum wage, overtime pay and other benefits offered to full-time employees — is part of a larger debate over income inequality.

The Labor Department is making strides to combat what it sees as a growing trend of misclassified workers, and now congressional Democrats are getting involved.

The Payroll Fraud Prevention Act, introduced Wednesday by Rep. Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonJuan Williams: Racial shifts spark fury in Trump and his base Dem behind impeachment push to boycott State of the Union Democrats seek to take on Trump at State of the Union MORE (D-Fla.) just before the House left for recess, would penalize employers that misclassify workers and violate long-standing labor laws.

"Misclassification cheats hard-working Americans out of federally guaranteed labor rights and benefits, such as overtime pay, minimum wage, and family and medical leave,” Wilson said.

Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyLicense to discriminate: Religious exemption laws are trampling rights in rural America More than 30 Senate Dems ask Trump to reconsider Central American aid cuts Endorsements? Biden can't count on a flood from the Senate MORE Jr. (D-Pa.) is introducing identical legislation in the upper chamber to combat the misclassification of workers.

The legislation would encourage companies to classify more workers as employees rather than independent contractors.

Companies would be required to notify workers of their classification in writing, and "when an employer fails to provide proper written notice of classification to any employee or non-employee, the worker is considered an employee."

The legislation would also include provisions for misclassified workers to recover lost wages.

"We owe workers a fair shot at good job where they can receive basic workplace protections,” Casey said. "Too many workers are classified as independent contractors when it's clear that they are employees."