Employment Misclassification: Variations in Policy and the Diffusion of Penalty Laws Across U.S. States

Robert Louis Marioni, Tennessee State University


Employment misclassification occurs when an employer either intentionally or unintentionally classifies an employee as an independent contractor. Misclassification of employees has a wide range of impacts on state budgets and the principal-agent relationship. Due to this, many states have adopted policy specifically to address the issue. Yet little is known about the policy response to misclassification outside a few legal journal articles and state-specific studies on the issue. To date, no academic studies exist on the topic. This dissertation seeks to fill the gap in academic literature by first examining the current landscape of employment misclassification policy, and then examining factors that contribute to the adoption of an employment misclassification penalty law. The dissertation will develop a basic understanding of the current policy environment and factors leading to adoption. Specifically, it draws upon principal-agent theory to understand the phenomenon and use policy diffusion literature to guide an empirical study of possible determinants of state policy adoption of employment misclassification penalty laws. This dissertation contributes to the literature on policy diffusion in general, but also lays the groundwork for future studies on employment misclassification policy ranging from isomorphism in these laws, the impact of employment misclassification policy on the gig economy, and additional studies on factors that contribute to the adoption of employment misclassification policies dimensions beyond the statutes themselves.

Subject Area

Public administration|Public policy

Recommended Citation

Robert Louis Marioni, "Employment Misclassification: Variations in Policy and the Diffusion of Penalty Laws Across U.S. States" (2021). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI29395784.