The Bottom Line on Independent Contractors Hurt at Work
You’ve signed a 1099 tax form meaning you’re an independent contractor. Suddenly, you are hurt in a tragic accident at work. The company you are working for basically tells you that you are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. After all, you are not their employee. It sounds like you might have a problem. But, it might not be true. Find out why.
The latest ruling on this issue came a couple of summers ago. The case of Colvin v. Coconuts deals with the question of whether certain employees are independent contractors. In this matter, Destine Colvin was employed as an exotic dancer for an adult club. Destine was injured while working at Coconuts. The circumstances of the accident are not described in the court opinion.
After Destine’s lawyer filed court papers on her behalf, the claim was denied. Coconuts denied that the dancer was their employee. Destine was not paid a salary. Instead, she was compensated by tips. There was one exception. When Destine performed lap dances, she charged a specified fee. Although a portion of the lap dance charge went to Coconuts, she was permitted to pocket any other money.
Destine set her own schedule and it changed on a weekly basis. However, Coconuts had a strict policy in place for dancers. When they were at work, the dancers were not permitted to leave the club. In addition, dancers were expected to converse with patrons when they were not on the stage. In fact, they were subject to reprimand if they failed to do so. The dance rotation was set up by the club’s disc jockey.
It was determined that Destine only worked at Coconuts. She had no other job. The court reviewed the terms of Destine’s work arrangement with Coconuts. After careful consideration of the applicable law, it was decided that Destine was an employee for purposes of workers’ compensation benefits. Can you guess why?
Tests that Determine the Employer/Employee Relationship
In order to determine if an injured worker is actually an employee, it comes down to a matter of two tests defined by the courts. One is known as the “control test”; the other is the “relative nature of the work test.” Let’s start with the questions asked concerning the control test:
- How much control does the employer have when it comes to the worker?
- How is the worker compensated?
- Whose equipment does the worker use?
- What is the policy as far as termination?
When it comes to the relative nature of the work test, there is one crucial consideration. Was the work performed by the individual an integral part of the employer’s earnings?
Injured at work and concerned that you may be denied workers’ compensation benefits? At the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone, we have represented injured workers for more than twenty-five years. Contact us to schedule an appointment for experienced legal advice.