The Department of Labor’s Guidelines on the Distinctions between Independent Contractors and Employees—and Their Application to Adjunct Faculty

by VanessaVaile


One can argue that adjunct faculty whose primary employment is outside the college or university at which they are teaching are “independent contractors” in the strictest sense of the term.

But, for those increasing numbers of adjunct faculty whose primary employment is as instructors employed by multiple colleges and/or universities, the case can clearly be made that those institutions have been abusing the “independent contractor” classification every bit as much as employers in other sectors have been doing so. In fact, although increasing numbers of occupations requiring baccalaureate degrees or even graduate degrees are being “transformed” under this reclassification scheme, it seems very clear that higher education has almost singularly used this scheme to exploit those who hold advanced degrees.

Up until about a year or so ago, a significant percentage of those trying to earn their livings as adjunct faculty taught the equivalent of full-time loads at single institutions…

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