A state employment contract generally refers to employment contracts that are issued for regular employees of the state.  Such employees are considered legally employed by the state, and would therefore be entitled to various state benefits regarding wages, overtime pay, vacation time, retirement plans, and other aspects of employment.

However, one thing to consider is that not all persons who are working with the state are considered regular employees.  For instance, some persons may be considered volunteers or “independent contractors”.  Such persons may not be entitled to state benefits even though they might actually have a contract with the state.

Thus, it’s important to understand whether a person is considered a state employee in light of the type of contract they have.

Are Independent Contractors State Employees?

An independent contractor can be any person who might have a contract to perform some work with the state, but only for a limited time and for a specific purpose.  Such persons may not be considered regular employees.  Alternatively, it could refer to someone who is hired by a state employee and working on behalf of that state worker.

The tricky part is that there no real, solid definitions for what an independent contractor is.  When determining if an employee is a regular worker or an independent contractor, the courts may consider various factors, such as:

  • Whether the work is part of regular state business or is a distinct, separate service;
  • Whether the work requires special talents, skill, or equipment;
  • The degree to which state employees and employers are overseeing the work;
  • The methods and time of payment;
  • Whether any terms in the employment contract are disputed;
  • How long the project will last;
  • How permanent the relationship between the state organization and the contract worker will be;
  • Various other factors

Even if a state employment contract has a clause stating “this is intended to be an independent contract”, the court may find that the person is actually an employee based on the factors above.  For this reason, disputes involving state employment contracts are generally resolved on an individual, case-by-case basis.

What if I Have an Employment Contract Dispute?

The outcome of any employment contract dispute will therefore depend on whether you are classified as a regular state employee vs. an independent contractor.  If you need to file a claim, most states require that you submit your claim directly with a state employment or labor agency.  The agency will investigate your claim to determine your rights under current state employment statutes.

As mentioned, you may be considered a state employee or an independent contractor regardless of what any written contract might state- it’s mostly your actions and conduct in terms of work performance that define your status.  Remedies for dispute will depend on the issue; these can include a variety of consequences like payment for lost wages or reinstatement of lost benefits.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With State Employment Contracts?

State employment contracts can cover a wide range of different terms and employment matters.  You may wish to hire a contract lawyer if you need help drafting, reviewing, or revising an employment contract with the state.  Also, you may need to hire a lawyer if you need to file a claim or a lawsuit regarding your state employment contract.  Your attorney can represent you and help defend your rights under your state’s employment laws.