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New Mexico Files Brief in Support of Misclassified Employees’ Rights to Organize

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas

Commentary: Today, Attorney General Hector Balderas, as a part of a coalition of 12 state attorneys general, filed a brief to the National Labor Relations Board in support of a decision against Velox Express Inc. that concluded its misclassification of employees as independent contractors constituted an unfair labor practice in violation of the National Labor Relations Act.

The Administrative Law Judge in the case Velox Express Inc. vs. Jeannie Edge determined that Velox Express, an Indiana-based company that performs medical specimen pick-ups, retail deliveries, home infusions and long-term care pharmacy work, misclassified its drivers as independent contractors and restrained them from exercising their right to unionize.

“We must protect workers’ rights to be properly classified to ensure they get the benefits and protections they deserve, but we must also protect New Mexico small businesses following the rule of law so they are not unfairly positioned against those businesses that are not,” said Attorney General Balderas.

According to the brief, misclassification is an increasingly common way for employers to avoid their legal obligations to employees and to unfairly compete in the marketplace. When employers misclassify their workers as independent contractors, it is harder for those employees to assert their workplace rights, including protections from wage theft, harassment and discrimination. Misclassified workers are also denied Occupational Health and Safety Act protections, and are unable to form unions, collectively bargain, or join in concerted efforts to improve conditions in their workplace without fear of reprisal from employers.

Employers that misclassify their workers are able to avoid paying unemployment insurance and contributing to the worker’s compensation system, which poses significant cost in terms of lost revenue for state, local, and federal government.

The coalition of state attorneys general submitted today’s brief at the invitation of the National Labor Relations Board. Joining Attorney General Balderas in today’s coalition are attorneys general from Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Virginia and Washington.