My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: California
I'm currently a 1099 employee of a logistics firm.
My job is delivering to customers from a central location or location(s) owned/controlled by my employer.
The goods delivered are owned by the employer and we use software provided by the employer.
They have recently begun requiring 1099 employees to wear masks not only while at their facility
but during the course of the work, which takes place in our personally owned vehicles & at their customers' locations.
They are willing to provide the masks at no cost to us, and they in fact do so.
They do not pay full benefits because of 1099 classification, something which I'm not sure has changed due to the passage of AB5.
The company indicates that if we do not wear a mask while on their property or at any time during our route, this may affect our ability to continue working for them (contractual standing/future eligibility).
They have provided have written notice of this, and they do not provide any exemptions to the requirement in their notice.
In the cities/counties where my work is performed, no laws have been passed making masks legally required, thus it is at the requirement of my employer.
I thus have a few questions:
Does the requirement to wear a mask during our routes mean that we should now be classified as employees because it is effectively a "uniform" requirement (being worn on the body and thus part of our appearance)? I thought that 1099 contractors were exempt from uniform and appearance requirements. Until this new requirement, we have been exempt.
Do they have a right to fire us (as either 1099 contractors, as we are currently, or as employees) if we refuse to do so? They claim that they do.
It would be easy enough for them to fire us and officially state it as some other reason, since we are independent contractors, such as "lost a package" or "offended customer" or something like that. Would it be likely that a suit against them would be successful on these grounds, even if they lied about the reason for firing us?
I have also heard that the ADA protects employees with disabilities from having to wear masks (for disability reasons), and that we do not have to disclose a disability? Is this protection only for employees? Do we need prior documentation of this, since it was not an initial requirement when we signed up for the job and has only recently been added?
Are masks legally considered a uniform for purposes of 1099/employee status, when they are not required by law?
Does this mean one is legally an employee (& subject to protections against being fired for example or having to pay SE tax? Does this extend for the whole duration of our employment if we have already paid tax for several years?)
Can 1099 employees be fired for not wearing a mask?
Does the ADA protect us from being required to wear a mask? Do we need prior documentation for this?
Can they just change the contract of employment anytime they want or do we have protections against that?