State Leadership on Anti-Discrimination Protections for Independent Contractors

“As the way we work continues to evolve, the number of people working in ways that do not fit within traditional employer/employee frameworks is likely to grow. Yet our laws have not caught up.

States have stepped up to fill this gap, paving a path for future federal action while ensuring protection in the present for independent workers. A Better Balance’s forthcoming analysis surveys state antidiscrimination laws across the country to determine their current treatment of independent contractors. While most states tend to follow the federal definition of who is and is not covered under Title VII, we identify eight states that provide at least some clear protections against discrimination for independent contractors. These states can offer models for further research and policy development at the local, state, and federal level.

“With protections for independent contractors limited in most of the country, action is urgently needed to ensure that independent contractors are protected from discrimination at work.

While some states offer limited protections to all independent contractors, at least one state offers broad protections to only some independent contractors. Pennsylvania’s anti-discrimination law explicitly prohibits discrimination against independent contractors, offering the same protections to covered independent contractors as to covered employees and prohibiting all the same forms of discrimination. However, the law defines independent contractors narrowly, to include only those workers subject to state licensing laws or included in the Fair Housing Act (which covers those whose business is selling or renting dwellings, or financing residential real estate transactions). Independent contractors not covered by this definition are excluded from clear protection under the law.

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A Better Balance

A Better Balance

We use the power of the law to advance justice for workers caring for themselves and their loved ones. (learn more at abetterbalance.org)