Contract work regulations in Massachusetts

Subject: Contract work regulations in Massachusetts
From: Evelyn Lee Barney <evbarney -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 20 Apr 2009 18:38:00 -0400




My son was working for a web marketing firm here in western MA. He was
laid off in January. He was collecting unemployment insurance, but was
recently offered a job at a textbook editing company. He's a hard
worker, and not a whiner as a rule - but it seems they are treating him
quite badly: demeaning, insulting etc . . . some direct, but more often
indirect such as talking very loudly near him but not to him about how
everyone who applied for work there though Craig's List was a "looser"
(even to the point of likening them to "Octo Mom" - whatever THAT has to
do with anything!) As you likely have guessed, my son found the job on
Craig's List. As I understand it, since he is a healthy white male, this
may be harassment but not illegal harassment.

He started working without any paperwork being signed. (He only started
in the middle of last week - but says the writing on the wall is that it
isn't going to get better) Today, he was given paperwork to sign at home
and bring back tomorrow. This paperwork says he is a CONSULTANT - an
independent contractor - (IOW: dealing with the taxes and all of the
FICA are on him) and no one had said anything to him about that status
before. To me, that seems shady at the very least. According to MA
statues on employee vs. contractor - it seems he's an EMPLOYEE. They
control his hours, he works in their offices, he is directly supervised
and so on.

There are few other jobs right now in the area, not even pumping gas.
And, his hours are such that looking for another job is very difficult.
They keep him on a very tight leash (8 am - 4:30 pm with one 1/2 break,
unpaid, mid day - during which he has been unable to get anyone who may
be able to answer questions on the phone. Seems like they are at lunch
too.)

So - here are the questions for those of you who have done contract work
AND dealt with Massachusetts:

Isn't it questionable to hire him, and tell him he's a contractor after
the fact?

If he tells them he won't sign the contract because it conflicts with
their verbal agreement (contract work was not mentioned) and they tell
him to take a hike, how are the people at the Unemployment Office likely
to view this?

My son lives in his own place (rental) and I have since downsized and
have no room for him - I can pay his rent next month but may be out for
work for the summer myself.

Any advice is welcome. The boy is a mess!

Thanks,

Ev
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