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Lowe’s Installers Misclassified as Independent Contractors Class Action

Lowe's Flooring Department

During seventeen years of installing floors for Lowe’s Home Centers, Darin Viars has had neither the freedom of an independent contractor nor the benefits of an employee. The complaint for this class action alleges that Viars has been an employee all along because of the limiting rules and arrangements he has had to follow.

The class for this action is all persons who performed installation services for customers of Lowe’s Home Centers in the state of West Virginia who were classified as independent contractors.

A number of factors seem to support the complaint’s claim that he is an employee:

  • Installations are part of Lowe’s regular business.
  • Viars was required to sign a standard agreement dictated by Lowe’s, and he claims that all installers are required to sign the same contract.
  • Viars works for Lowe’s for between thirty and seventy hours per week. Because of the high demands on his time and the requirement to hold himself ready for Lowe’s work, he cannot develop a separate business of his own.
  • Viars performs the work under the name of Lowe’s. He is required to wear a Lowe’s cap and shirt while doing installations and to place a Lowe’s yard sign on the premises. He is not permitted to give customers or even passers-by his own business card but is required to refer them to Lowe’s, even if the work they want done is not part of Lowe’s services.
  • Lowe’s sets standards and policies that govern the work and sends employees to assess and score Viars’s work. Viars is not allowed to make changes to the job without discussion with Lowe’s.
  • Customers pay Lowe’s for the job; Lowe’s pays Viars.

However, despite all these rules and restrictions, the complaint claims, Viars has been classified as an independent contractor. According to the complaint, he does not receive employee benefits (such as medical insurance or paid holidays), pays a self-employment tax, and does not get overtime pay; he is not eligible for unemployment insurance if he is laid off or workers’ compensation if he is injured. He has had to pay his own liability coverage.

The complaint claims that Viars has been misclassified as an independent contractor when he is actually an employee. It claims violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which mandates overtime pay for hours worked over forty per week, and also charges Lowe’s with unjust enrichment.

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