Kansas Labor Secretary and Other Legislators Discuss Misclassification, Wage Theft, and Independent Contractors

Jim Garner, Kansas Labor Secretary, spoke to a group in Wichita this past weekend regarding Kansas wage theft and wages that were wrongfully withheld from Kansas workers. Along with Garner, there were several federal and state labor officials as well as a significant number of Kansas state legislators participating in the Summit.

The crux of the meeting was that the poor economy has led to an increase in employers improperly paying Kansas workers. This practice is typically called "wage theft" and is covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), as well as other Kansas specific provisions designed to protect workers.

Other topics of the meeting were the number of employers who are treating workers as independent contractors when they should in fact be treated as employees. This is another way that employers are trying to save money in the difficult economy. However, if a worker is classified as an independent contractor they are denied unemployment benefits, workers compensation, and other benefits that employees typically receive, which independent contractors do not. This is an unfair practice both to the workers who are not receiving these benefits as well as to businesses that are properly classifying and paying workers.