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Michael P. Maslanka, assistant professor of law, UNT Dallas College of Law. Michael P. Maslanka, assistant professor of law, UNT Dallas College of Law.

A fierce fight is unfolding in employment law. A fight that goes to a key threshold issue: Is a worker an employee of an employer or an independent contractor in the worker’s own business?

The stakes could not be higher. If an independent contractor, then the worker is not covered by  well over a half century of remedial legislation: the Fair Labor Standards Act and the National Labor Relations Act from the 1930s; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act from the 1960s; and the Employee Retirement Security Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act from the 1970s. In short, good luck independent contractor, you are on your own. And once upon a time that was fine because the demarcation between employee and independent contractor was bright and well defined.

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