OPINION: Supreme Court ruling could doom independent contractors

Mariana Bellis
For the Hub

I never imagined when immigrating to the U.S. from Budapest 25 years ago that I would be living in Southern California, living life on my own schedule, bringing beauty to hundreds of diverse Angelenos. And now that I am living this life, I could not imagine what I would do without it. 

My story in the beauty industry began 25 years ago in New York City, working in a hair salon with my then-husband. Learning the intricacies of hair styling and working with a repeated contingency of clients, I loved providing the confidence of a good hair day but craved the empowerment of working when my clients needed me and not just when the salon was open.  

Over two decades later, I am happily remarried and living in the hustle and bustle of the entertainment city. But much has changed since working in a small salon in New York. 

Setting out to conquer new challenges in the City of Angels, my solution lay in being an independent contractor. This structure of independent contracting is perfect for me. I like working on my own time. One day, I could be free all day and book clients from six in the morning to nine at night, packing my day with work and stories from the dozen new clients I meet that day. And on the next day, if I have personal appointments or family obligations in the morning and afternoon, I can schedule clients between and after them. This is the beauty of working as an independent contractor in the beauty industry. 

Even more amazing than having control of my schedule is meeting so many new and fascinating people living right here in LA. When I style a client’s hair, I am providing more than just a touch-up. I become a part of their lives by creating the confidence to conquer their dreams. 

You never know if scheduling your hairstyling in the comfort of your own home may be the choice that changes your life. I know this true because I once had a client whose hair I styled for her first date and I will never forget how amazing this confidence boost made her feel. Neither will she because she is now engaged to this person! These are the experiences that keep me going. 

Yet I may be forced to dramatically change my service to my clients and my lifestyle due to a California Supreme Court ruling in a case called Dynamex that has created confusion and ambiguity in the state. Before this ruling, independent contractors were able to choose when they work, for whom they work, and where. Now, nearly two million California independent contractors could be forced to become employees and restricting much-needed flexibility and the ability to earn as much as I choose. 

Flexibility is a main factor for being an independent contractor for me and nearly 80 percent of those like me in the state, according to a Beacon Economics study. It is very concerning that we chose a certain lifestyle in order to have control over our schedules and yet we may be forced to become employees and succumb to mandated break times.

One-size-fits-all policies do not work. I would not suggest the same cut to any two clients, and I do not expect any two independent contractors to have the same needs. California legislators should recognize and reward our diverse workforce and not force one-size-fits-all policies, like Dynamex, on hardworking Californians.


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