Within his first few months of taking office, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has signaled a strong and clear focus on employers that have misclassified workers as independent contractors. On April 15, 2019, Governor Evers issued Executive Order 20 (EO), creating a joint task force of leaders from key state agencies, including the state's Attorney General's office, the Department of Revenue (DOR), and the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), with representation from the Unemployment Insurance, Equal Rights and Workers' Compensation divisions.

The Task Force will "facilitate coordination of investigation and enforcement of worker misclassification" matters by DWD, DOR and other state agencies. The EO indicates that these efforts will include the sharing of information between Task Force agencies, developing recommendations for the pooling of investigative and enforcement resources and facilitating cooperation and participation from local district attorneys and relevant federal agencies.

The Task Force is also charged with issuing an annual report to the governor addressing, among other things, the amounts of additional wages to be paid to individuals misclassified as independent contractors, and taxes and penalty payments collected through the efforts of the various Task Force agencies. The report will also propose potential legislative, administrative or regulatory changes.

Takeaway for Employers

Like many states, Wisconsin has an array of state laws concerning independent contractor status, but no uniformity among these laws and significant lack of clarity regarding independent contractor status. With Wisconsin's new focus on worker misclassification, we recommend reviewing your current and contemplated third-party worker arrangements to understand your potential exposure.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.