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Frequently Asked Questions about Employment Law

Q: Are independent contractors treated the same as employees as it relates to employment law?

No, Independent contractors are not treated the same as employees. While independent contractors have more freedom in their work, they also lack some of the protections enjoyed by traditional employees, such as workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits. They are also responsible for paying their own taxes directly to the Internal Revenue Service from the first dollar since their taxes are not withheld. If you have a question as to whether you should work as an independent contractor or as an employee, contact an experienced employment law attorney today to discuss your situation.

Q: What laws must employers follow when hiring new employees?

A prospective employer must be careful to avoid any illegal discrimination based on race, national origin, gender, pregnancy, age, disability, or religion during the hiring process. Employers should also be sure to protect the privacy rights of any potential employee by protecting any confidential or private information provided to the applicant, and by disclosing to the applicant any background or credit checks that will be performed. Employers are required to follow all applicable documentation rules regarding immigration and age restrictions set out by law.

Q: Can employers monitor their employees’ Internet usage or read their e-mail?

The Supreme Court has found that employees have very little right to privacy in their employer’s computer system. Employers may monitor Web sites visited by their employees and may block their employees from visiting certain Web sites. They can also limit their Internet usage to business-related Web sites. If the employer has a policy that its computer systems are to be used only for work-related activities, it may reprimand or punish an employee who used its equipment for personal purposes. E-mails are considered to be company property if sent using company equipment, and many employers read or archive all e-mails sent through its system, both incoming and outgoing.