Three years ago, I got hired as an independent contractor for a small company where we had a lot of contact with the owner.
Then, my contract expired and things started get a little funny from there.
- My boss didn't clearly lay out any terms after that point. He only stated that I could keep working for his company.
- I got paid exactly the same way when I was officially a contractor (same hourly rate, same stipend)
- I later found out that every one of his "employees" also works under a 1099, even if they have no longer have a definite contract with him. Nobody paid taxes for SS, insurance, etc.
Over a year later, he started not liking my performance (he felt I was working too slowly), but instead of firing me, he decided to pay me a fixed rate, and only give me small projects that maybe pay me monthly in the low 100s. That way he felt safer not taking the risk of paying me for each hour I worked. Any time he changed the terms on me, he did not have it written out on paper.
He also proposed an alternative. He wanted me to work for an "evaluation period" where I worked 30 hours a week, for $800 a month (this is below minimum wage in my state by the way), and THEN after he saw enough improvement, I'd work for base salary. He compared it to an internship. I found it ridiculous, that he would offer this idea after working for him for three years. It seems like a huge step backward.
I know I can simply look for another job, but after 10 months of unsuccessfully getting a job some place else I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. Realistically, my only options are to quit and endure having no job at all or work for him. I'd rather milk this job for all it's worth.
- Since he is the one setting the hours and when/how much I get paid, does this make me an employee?
- Does he have any legal right to treat it as a low-pay internship, or is his proposal in clear violation of employee laws?