At times, it can be tricky to determine if a nail tech is truly an independent contractor or would be more accurately classified as an employee. Attorney Nancy Joerg of labor and employment law firm Wessels Sherman offers some guidance in light of a case where the U.S. District Court in Maryland found that a nail tech accusing a salon of unfair labor practices was in fact an independent contractor.

In determining that the tech was not an employee, the District Court considered some key facts:

  • The nail technician was paid by the customer (not by the salon).
  • The nail technician gave the salon money for a facility/rental charge.
  • The nail technician set her own prices, set her own hours, and did her own advertising.

“The Court found it particularly significant that the nail technician was not actually supervised by anyone (and therefore was not told what work to do),” says Joerg. “It found that the salon exercised ‘virtually no control’ over the technician’s client base. The Court also found in favor of independent contractor status in this case because the nail technician decided by herself what to charge for her services.” Additionally, the nail technician purchased all of her own equipment and supplies.

Joerg offers the following advice to salon owners who use the services of independent contractors: “Make sure the independent contractors advertise in their own business name. Put a copy of their ad in their independent contractor file. You should have a file for each independent contractor that you use. Fill those files with documentation proving that the independent contractors are self-employed business entities.”

She cautions that state laws vary and anyone interested should research laws in their own state that may apply.

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