Determining employer-employee relations is an important part of business, not only because it determines the obligations and duties of both the employer and the employee but also because the existence of such relationship vests an employee with certain rights.
Black’s Law Dictionary defines an employee to be any person in service of another under any contract of hire, express or implied, oral or written, where the employer has the power or right to control and direct the employee in the material details of how the work is to be performed.
Under common law rules, employer-employee relations exist when an employer can control the services performed by an employee – what will be done and how it will be done. Further, in a case decided by the Supreme Court, even if there is no direct control over the employee, employer-employee relationship will be found under the following circumstances:
• The employer retains pervasive control over the business operation as a whole
• The employee’s duties are an integral part of the operation
• Detailed control is unnecessary because of the nature of the work
Employees have certain rights under the law compared to other workers such as independent contractors or volunteers. Under the law, employers must pay their employees minimum wage, overtime pay, comply with wage and hour law requirements (rest and meal periods), and provide insurance coverage for their employees such as: workers’ compensation insurance, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, and social security.
The coverage of these laws are supposed to help ensure the tenure and protection of an employee against employer abuses. Thus, in the event that an employee is sexually harassed and subsequently fired by the employer in an act of retaliation, the employee may bring a wrongful termination lawsuit before the court.
If your employment situation isn’t clear but you believe you are in an employer-employee relationship but without the legal rights and benefits, you should consult with an employment attorney immediately to recover any resulting loss you may have suffered as a result.
Many employers would deny the existence of such relationship or misclassify an employee to avoid paying taxes or other benefits but if you substantially fall under the definition within an employer-employee relationship, then you are entitled to certain employee rights.
…With Atta Kwaku Boadi