The shadow economy is work activity or economic activity that is done with a goal of avoiding paying taxes by the worker or the “employer,” or avoid other laws concerning wages, hours allowed to work, job safety, etc. Such workers may be wrongly labeled by their employers as “independent contractors” to avoid the employers’ legal obligations to employees. Typical jobs in the shadow economy are delivery workers, i.e. a pizza delivery or amazon delivery, construction workers or subcontractors. Money earned by workers in the shadow economy is typically not reported to the government allowing the employer and employee to avoid paying taxes. These forms of employment are becoming more popular because everyone, but the government, goes home with more money. But, what happens when an employee working in the shadow economy is injured at work? Is such a worker actually an employee or an independent contractor regardless of how the employer labeled them? Assuming, they can prove or claim that they are an employee, can they prove their wages? Without check stubs to prove their wage rates or taxes being deducted from those check stabs, etc., the shadow economy leaves injured workers unable to prove their weekly salary to receive the correct workers’ comp rate. Moreover, many times, these types of employers fail to carry workers’ compensation insurance to pay for the injured worker’s medical treatment and wage loss benefits, furthering their attempts to avoid their legal obligations.
With over twenty years’ experience and three years at Pearson Koutcher, Mindy Levin has successfully represented a significant amount of injured workers that work in the shadow economy and/or for uninsured employers. Mindy stated “I am honored to have been specifically chosen by Judge Craig to serve on this panel. I enjoy helping segments of our society that seem to be taken advantage of the most or are seemingly left without assistance, as they tend to be the most deserving of the humanitarian purpose of the Act and are typically injured doing those jobs that most people do not want to do.”
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