What is disability discrimination?

Who Is an "Employee"?(67)

In most circumstances, an individual is only protected if s/he was an "employee" at the time of the alleged discrimination, rather than an independent contractor, partner, or other non-employee.(68) An "employee" is "an individual employed by an employer."(69) An individual may have more than one employer.(70) The question of whether an employer-employee relationship exists is fact-specific and depends on whether the employer controls the means and manner of the worker's work performance. This determination requires consideration of all aspects of the worker's relationship with the employer. Factors indicating that a worker is in an employment relationship with an employer include the following:(71)

  • The employer has the right to control when, where, and how the worker performs the job.
  • The work does not require a high level of skill or expertise.
  • The employer furnishes the tools, materials, and equipment.
  • The work is performed on the employer's premises.
  • There is a continuing relationship between the worker and the employer.
  • The employer has the right to assign additional projects to the worker.
  • The employer sets the hours of work and the duration of the job.
  • The worker is paid by the hour, week, or month rather than the agreed cost of performing a particular job.
  • The worker does not hire and pay assistants.
  • The work performed by the worker is part of the regular business of the employer.
  • The employer is in business.
  • The worker is not engaged in his/her own distinct occupation or business.
  • The employer provides the worker with benefits such as insurance, leave, or workers' compensation.
  • The worker is considered an employee of the employer for tax purposes (i.e., the employer withholds federal, state, and Social Security taxes).
  • The employer can discharge the worker.
  • The worker and the employer believe that they are creating an employer-employee relationship.

This list is not exhaustive. Other aspects of the relationship between the parties may affect the determination of whether an employer-employee relationship exists. Furthermore, not all or even a majority of the listed criteria need be met. Rather, the determination must be based on all of the circumstances in the relationship between the parties, regardless of whether the parties refer to it as an employee or as an independent contractor relationship.

See EEOC Compliance Manual: Section 2: Threshold Issues

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