ALC 2011: Contractor versus Employee

The Association of Language Companies (ALC) puts on its annual conference in Las Vegas on May 18-21, 2011.

Contractor vs. Employee: Introduction to the Contract Interpreter Information Center (CIIC)
Bill Graeper (Certified Languages Internationals), Vic Marcus (Northwest Interpreters, Inc.), Francesco Pagano (Interpreters and Translators, Inc.)

Vic Marcus, Bill Graeper, Francesco Pagano, Kristin Quinlan

Interpreters as Independent Contractors or Employees – this has been a hot topic for several years as federal, state, and local taxing bodies look to increase their revenue to help balance budgets.

  • “Misclassification” is a hot topic, not only in the US, but also in Canada and Europe
  • Many industries are targeted; construction industry in particular
  • Who is after us? Federal and state government agencies facing budget crises and shortfalls; the primary purpose is tax collection; the primary focus is on Employment and Workers’ Comp
  • Translators and interpreters by and large want to be independent contractors
  • Bill Graeper has a blog on this issue at

Contract Interpreter Information Center

  • Includes translators
  • Purpose: to promote contractor business model
  • It is an informational website; focus: use of contractors in the language services industry, industry advocacy and support; education for all stakeholders
  • Founding members: Certified Languages International, Northwest Interpreters, Interpreters and Translators, languagelink, Dynamic Language
  • When audited, hire a professional (attorney specializing in labor law), reach out to CIIC members for assistance, be proactive – note reactive

The Connecticut Story

  • In 1999, Interpreters and Translators, Inc. (ITI) was audited by the CT Department of Labor
  • Audit was successful and the DoL conducted two more audits the next two years; audits were also successful
  • In 2008, an interpreter made a claim for unemployment
  • The DoL came back and requested records of all independent contractors; ITI hired an attorney
  • ITI’s attorney found a similar case: Daws Critical Care Registry vs. State of Connecticut Department of Labor (CT Supreme Court case, cited in other states as well)
  • The DoL reclassified the contractor with a claim as ITI’s employee and attempted to reclassify all interpreters used by ITI; the process took several years
  • Citing the Daws Critical Care Registry case, ITI’s attorney was able to change the DoL’s attitude

Lessons Learned

  • Keep your records clean by abiding with state and federal requirements for proper classification
  • If you sense any heat, contact and retain an attorney right away
  • Don’t allow any attorney to tell you “let it go”
  • Encourage your contractors to get a business license