Join Club

NOVA Legal Beat: Wrongly Classified as an Independent Contractor?

NOVA Legal Beat logo

Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Mathew B. Tully of Tully Rinckey PLLC, an Arlington firm that specializes in federal employment and labor law, security clearance proceedings, and military law.

Q. My employer refuses to pay me overtime, claiming I’m an independent contractor. But I’m not. I’ve been working for this company for years. What can I do?

A. Employers often try to dodge responsibility for paying workers overtime by classifying them as independent contractors rather than employees. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay employees overtime for hours worked exceeding 40 hours per week.

Independent contractors can provide services to a business, just as employees do. But independent contractors are self-employed rather than employed by the business they serve. Of course, differentiating an independent contractor from an employee can be quite difficult. It is even possible for some independent contractors to become employees over time if their relationship with the contracting business changes.

“In determining whether a worker is an employee covered by the FLSA, a court considers the ‘economic realities’ of the relationship between the worker and the putative employer,” the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in Schultz v. Capital Integration Security (2006).

To determine whether someone is an employee or independent contractor, courts will conduct what is known as a Silk test, which is named after a 1947 U.S. Supreme Court case. As the 4th Circuit explained in Schultz, this test consists of six factors:

  1. the company’s ability to control how work was performed;
  2. opportunities to reap profits or incur losses, depending on the worker’s managerial skill;
  3. the worker’s investment in equipment or hiring of other workers;
  4. skill requirements;
  5. whether the working relationship was temporal or long lasting; and
  6. “the degree to which the services rendered are an integral part of the putative employer’s business.”

After weighing these Silk factors, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Kennedy v. A Touch of Patience Shared Housing (2011) concluded the plaintiff, who had sued for unpaid minimum and overtime wages, was not an independent contractor as the defendant had claimed.

She actually qualified as an employee under the FLSA. The plaintiff performed a variety of services for a housing facility operator, including, cooking, serving meals, cleaning, and helping residents with household tasks, such as laundry and taking medication.

The court in Kennedy noted that the plaintiff claimed she had not exerted supervisory or managerial control “and exercised no control, discretion, or independent judgment with respect to her own duties.” She was paid in fixed cash amounts “at generally regular intervals” rather than reaping or incurring managerial skill-dependent profits and losses.

Further, over four and a half months she worked at two facilities and performed tasks that did not require special skills. Lastly, the plaintiff had claimed her services “were integral to defendant’s business.”

Workers who believe they have been misclassified as independent contractors should consult with an experienced employment law attorney, who could prepare an FLSA lawsuit. Employers, too, should consult with an attorney to determine whether certain workers should be classified as employees or independent contractors.

Mathew B. Tully is the founding partner of Tully Rinckey PLLC. Located in Arlington, Va. and Washington, D.C., Tully Rinckey PLLC’s attorneys practice federal employment law, military law, and security clearance representation. To speak with an attorney, call 703-525-4700 or to learn more visit 

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

Recent Stories

Good Tuesday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 16043 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today —…

While last week‘s landmark zoning decision legalized 2-6 unit homes throughout Arlington’s lowest-density neighborhoods, about 136 properties will be ineligible for such projects. The exemption applies to certain 5,000-6,000 square-foot…

The “Markers Market” is coming back to Pentagon City, planned for the first Sunday of every month starting this weekend. The market featuring local artists, creators, food, and music is…

Police are investigating the death of a man found in a vehicle on a quiet residential street near Marymount University. Police say the man’s death “does not appear to be…

Synetic Theater Camps are a wildly fun, highly accessible choice for young people who love moving, playing games, and making memories. Registration is open now for Summer Camps (sessions June 20-August 25) and there are even a few spots left for Spring Break camp, April 3­-7.

Located in National Landing, these performance-based camps are designed for students of all ages – no theater or performance experience required.

Led by professional teaching artists, campers learn acting, movement, and technical theater skills through the lens of Physical Theater. Physical Theater incorporates acting, movement, dance, mime, and acrobatics. If you’ve seen a Cirque du Soleil performance, you’ll find many similarities.

Most first-time campers are new to the performing arts, and teaching artists are well-versed in engaging students at all levels. Parents and campers report that one of the best parts of Synetic is the community, with many families returning year after year because they feel a strong sense of belonging.

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

EDBS Dental Billing Solutions is pleased to announce that it has achieved compliance with the federally mandated standards of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) through the use of Compliancy Group’s proprietary HIPAA methodology, The Guard® compliance tracking software, and HIPAA Seal of Compliance®.

The HIPAA Seal of Compliance is issued to organizations that have implemented an effective HIPAA compliance program through the use of The Guard, Compliancy Group’s proprietary compliance tracking solution.

Clients and patients are becoming more aware of the requirements of HIPAA compliance and how the regulation protects their personal information. Forward-thinking providers like EDBS Dental Billing Solutions choose the HIPAA Seal of Compliance to differentiate their services.

“Since the nature of our business being exclusively remote, we take HIPAA compliance very seriously. With the help of Compliancy Group, we are able to take steps to fortify our systems to protect PHI information and familiarize each employee about HIPAA and how we can further safeguard PHI data.” said EDBS Dental Billing Solutions founder Goldie De Leon.

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

WHS Spring Festival

Join us at the WHS Spring Festival on April 22, 2023, from 10am- 3pm at Wakefield High School(main parking lot). Come out to shop, play, and eat!

Shop local vendors, arts & crafts, new and used items, food vendors/trucks, and

District 27 Toastmasters 2023 Virtual Conference

District 27 Toastmasters invites you to its annual conference where you can hear phenomenal speakers, attend professional development and personal growth seminars about leadership, negotiation, communication, teamwork, and mentorship. Learn how to develop your personal story and how to improve


Subscribe to our mailing list