A common misconception regarding California independent contractors assumes they cannot file a legal action for a work-related injury or condition. While contractors generally may not qualify for workers' compensation benefits, they may sue a company for a breach of duty. One such class-action suit resulted in a settlement totaling more than $50 million.
Labor laws require companies to provide their employees and contract workers with a safe work environment. Regardless of an individual's status, companies owe a duty to keep workers free from hazards that may cause injuries or harmful conditions.
A harmed contract worker may sue for damages
According to ConsumerNotice.org, employers acting negligently or recklessly in exercising their duty of care may face a workplace injury lawsuit. Companies that contract workers to perform tasks that may result in physical, mental, or emotional injury must take steps to prevent any foreseeable harm.
If a contracted employee develops a condition that becomes debilitating, he or she may file a legal action for damages. When more than one contractor experiences the same type of injury, they may join together to file their lawsuit. The circumstances may enable them to certify their shared complaints as a class action.
The class-action proved that the work caused harm
Contractors working as content moderators for a worldwide social media company filed a landmark class-action lawsuit. Their claim alleged that their work, which required reviewing online content, caused them to suffer psychological trauma.
As reported by The Verge, the company reached a $52 million settlement with more than 11,000 contractors performing tasks related to reviewing and removing online posts containing disturbing material. The settlement also provides additional financial support to cover treatment for contractors who developed post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their work duties.