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Employers sometimes try to skirt workers' comp laws

It's a dodge used by some unscrupulous construction businesses in Tulsa and elsewhere: misclassifying employees. Like most shady business dealings, it is done to enhance a business's bottom line at the expense of employees.

An employee misclassified as independent contractor can be denied unemployment insurance and other benefits. Perhaps the most important benefit that they can lose is when they are injured and need workers' compensation, the U.S. Department of Labor says. 

The Labor Department says misclassified workers are far too often denied critical benefits at critical moments. Imagine being badly injured on a job and then finding out that you are not eligible for workers' comp benefits because your employer considered you an independent contractor?

Those benefits can include medical expenses for doctor visits or hospital stays, medications, physical therapy and more. Workers' comp also replaces a portion of the wages you miss while you are unable to return to your job.

Misclassification of workers hurts more than just the unfortunate employee. It hurts everyone. Taxpayers can be on the hook when the injured worker can't pay his or her hospital bills and when he or she needs public assistance to meet their household expenses.

Misclassification also unfairly tips the scales against employers who play by the rules, the Labor Department states. The costs for those who skirt the law and dump their responsibilities on their employees are lower, enabling them to underbid law-abiding companies.

Even for workers at businesses that properly classify employees, it can sometimes be difficult to get approval for a workers' comp claim. Sometimes workers need the help of a workers' compensation benefits attorney who knows how to protect your rights and benefits.

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