Vendor Discrimination?

I recently had an opportunity to work on a case where a company received a letter from an independent contractor that had been bidding to provide its services who claimed to have been discriminated against because he was not selected in the end. The employer was naturally concerned about the exposure to liability and sought assistance in replying to the allegations. As a rule of thumb, employment law only governs conduct between employers and employees. In this case, a vendor of services or independent contractor is, by nature, not an employee and is not covered by Title VII. However, this doesn't mean that you are immune from liability from every independent contractor on your roster. If you recall in my article about the misclassification of 1099 workers, the determination of who is and is not an employee will be based on their actual job duties with a company. Not only is it always important to carefully review the circumstances surrounding each allegation of labor law violation, but to proactively review the classification of your employees and independent contractors to make sure they are appropriate so there aren't any surprises if you should ever find yourself the recipient of a similar letter.