Worker Resources

What should I do if I think I have been misclassified as an independent contractor?

What is misclassification and why does it matter?

When employers incorrectly classify workers who are employees as independent contractors, it’s called “misclassification.”

California’s wage and hour laws (e.g., minimum wage, overtime, meal periods and rest breaks, etc.), workplace health and safety laws, and retaliation laws protect employees, but not independent contractors. Employees can go to state agencies such as the Labor Commissioner’s Office and Cal/OSHA to seek enforcement of these laws, whereas independent contractors must resolve their disputes or enforce their rights under their contracts through other means. Additionally, people who are self-employed or independent contractors are generally not eligible for regular unemployment, disability, or Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits.


If you are misclassified as an independent contractor, you may still qualify for benefits.

ABC Test

The Labor Code requires the application of the “ABC test” to determine if workers in California are employees or independent contractors.

Under the ABC test, a worker is presumed to be an employee and not an independent contractor, unless the hiring entity satisfies all three of the following conditions:


  1. The individual is free from control and direction, both under contract and in fact.


  1. The individual performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.


  1. The individual has their own independently established business of the same type as the work performed.

What should I do if I think I have been misclassified as an independent contractor?

Labor Commissioner’s Office


A worker can file one or more of the following:

  • wage claim with the Labor Commissioner’s Office
  • Report of Labor Law Violation with the Labor Commissioner’s Office for widespread violations affecting a group of workers
  • A lawsuit in court



Employment Development Department

(Unemployment, disability, or Paid Family Leave benefits)


If you believe that you’ve been misclassified and are entitled to benefits, you should apply for benefits and the Employment Development Department (EDD) will determine your eligibility. The fastest way to apply for benefits is through the EDD’s online systems: UI OnlineSM for unemployment, or SDI Online for disability or PFL benefits. 




In California, all workers are protected by labor laws regardless of their age, race, ethnicity, immigration status, orientation, or other differences.




For more information, please see the Frequently Asked Questions.