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Independent contractor misclassification: all too common

What do at least 10 million workers across the country have in common?

According to California state officials, they share the same status as so-called independent contractors, a designation that yields clear consequences for them personally and for the businesses that take advantage of their labor, and also has implications for American society, as well.

Many of those workers are misclassified, with businesses applying the tag independent contractor in order to skirt costs that are expended on "regular" full-time employees. Those centrally include the avoidance of a minimum wage, payroll contributions to fund programs like Social Security disability and workers' compensation and other obligations.

Indeed, and as noted in a recent media article discussing wage and hour laws and independent contractors, companies see misclassification "as a legal loophole in labor law that keeps costs down for businesses."

A director with one California labor advocacy group notes that misclassification is especially endemic in not-well-regulated industries marked by low pay.

"We've seen it for some time growing in just about every low-wage industry," he says.

That assertion is backed up by litigation brought in recent months by groups as diverse as Uber drivers and professional cheerleaders.

And strippers, too, with workers from that industry filing employment law litigation in courts across the country.

California is certainly not excepted from that. Dancers who worked at clubs in San Diego recently filed lawsuits against multiple establishments there, alleging wage theft. The suits were brought in federal court and could potentially become class-action filings.

Among other things, the dancers allege that club managers forced them to regularly pay a "house fee," denied them overtime pay and breaks, and threatened to retaliate against them if they complained.