Mass. SJC Rules Independent Contractor Statute Doesn’t Apply in Workers’ Comp Case

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) has ruled a state’s eccentric executive government does not establish either a petitioner is an workman authorised for workers’ remuneration advantages in a box that has led to questions about workman misclassification.

“Worker misclassification is a critical problem, both in a Commonwealth and opposite a nation,” SJC Chief Justice Ralph Gants wrote in a concurring opinion per a case.

This emanate has come to light after a new box involving petitioner Ives Camargo, in that she sought hearing of a preference done by a reviewing house of a Department of Industrial Accidents per a explain she done for workers’ remuneration benefits.

The house had endorsed a commentary of an executive decider by final Camargo was an eccentric executive not entitled to workers’ compensation. Its preference was formed on a clarification of an workman in Massachusetts’ workers’ remuneration statute.

After Camargo appealed, a box was eliminated to a SJC, that inspected a preference that she is an eccentric executive not authorised for workers’ compensation.

In a arise of a case, however, Gants called for a Massachusetts Legislature to cruise larger unity among laws that systematise workers. He combined that partial of a plea in preventing misclassification is that there is no uniform clarification of an employee. Instead, a law defines employees and eccentric contractors by several opposite standards depending on a context.

“In 2004, a Massachusetts Legislature took a poignant step toward harmonizing these standards, amending a eccentric executive statute…so that a hypothesis in preference of workman standing unsentimental not usually to a salary and hour laws….but also to a smallest salary and overtime laws,” Gants wrote. “However, a law ruling practice family in this state stays distant from uniform.”

Case Background

The Camargo box came about after she began operative as a journal smoothness representative for Publishers Circulation Fulfillment Inc. (PCF) in 2001. PCF provides home smoothness services for journal publishers and pays smoothness agents to discharge a newspapers to subscribers.

After Camargo was hired by PCF, she sealed several contracts that identified her as an eccentric contractor. As partial of her contract, she was supposing with journal smoothness routes and a list of customers. She could make her deliveries during any time and in any order, as prolonged as they were finished by 6 A.M. on weekdays and 8 A.M. on weekends.

To make a deliveries, she used her possess car for twelve years. She was paid for any journal delivered as good as a weekly stipend, that was paid when she chose to redeliver newspapers to business who did not accept a scheduled delivery.

As partial of a PCF contract, Camargo was available to sinecure assistants or subcontract her deliveries, that she did. Given a nonexclusivity of a agreement between Camargo and PCF, she could broach newspapers or other equipment for other businesses as well. She also purchased and collected eccentric executive work word and filed her taxes as an eccentric contractor, according to a SJC opinion request created by Chief Justice Scott L. Kafker.

On Sep 26, 2010, Camargo was loading newspapers from PCF into her car regulating a palm carriage when she fell off a ramp and harm her right knee and right hand. She reported her damage to PCF though did not find medical treatment. Despite a fall, she finished her work for PCF that day.

On Jan 7, 2011, she reported a second damage in that she had slipped on ice while delivering newspapers and harmed her right leg. Following this second injury, she was hospitalized and eventually underwent dual surgeries – one for her right knee and a other for her right hand. She was dismissed in a summer of 2012.

Camargo filed an initial explain for workers’ remuneration advantages in 2012 with a department, that a insurer objected. After a conference, a executive decider released an sequence directing a insurer to compensate Camargo proxy sum inability benefits. However, a insurer appealed to a hearing, seeking a rejection of all claims, according to Kafker’s opinion document.

In a preference released after a hearing, a executive decider dynamic Camargo was an eccentric executive and was not entitled to workers’ remuneration benefits, and a reviewing house endorsed this decision.

SJC Decision

Massachusetts workers’ remuneration law requires employers to yield workers’ remuneration to employees who are harmed during their employment. The law relates to employees tangible as “every chairman in a use of another underneath any agreement of hire, demonstrate or implied, verbal or written,” with certain exceptions.

Massachusetts’ eccentric executive government states that “an particular behaving any service, solely as certified underneath this chapter, shall be deliberate to be an workman underneath those chapters unless…the particular is giveaway from control and instruction in tie with a opening of a service, both underneath his agreement for a opening of use and in fact; and…the use is achieved outward a common march of a business of a employer; and…the particular is entirely intent in an exclusively determined trade, occupation, contention or business of a same inlet as that concerned in a use performed.”

According to Kafker’s opinion document, a justification in Camargo’s box supports a anticipating that she was an eccentric contractor. This is since in operative for PCF, she was authorised to enhance her business to broach newspapers and equipment for other companies, granted all indispensable to finish her pursuit during PCF – including regulating her possess car to make deliveries – hired substitutes to finish a job, purchased her possess eccentric executive work word and filed taxes as an eccentric contractor.

With this in mind, SJC hold that a eccentric executive government is not used to establish practice standing for workers’ remuneration claims underneath Massachusetts workers’ remuneration law, and endorsed a integrity of a reviewing house that Camargo was an eccentric contractor.

Call for Uniformity

As Kafker laid out in SJC’s opinion for a box and Gants wrote in his concurring opinion, Massachusetts law sets during slightest 4 opposite standards for last practice status.

To establish either a workman is entitled to salary and hour protections, smallest salary or overtime, a three-prong eccentric executive exam is applied. To establish either a workman is entitled to stagnation insurance, there is a opposite three-prong test. Additionally, either a workman is entitled to workers’ remuneration depends on an research of twelve factors, and either a workman is an workman for functions of income taxation self-denial requires an hearing of twenty factors, a opinion papers explained.

“The unsentimental outcome of this patchwork orthodox intrigue is difficulty and uncertainty,” Gants wrote. “With so many opposite standards, it is formidable for employers to systematise their workers properly, even where they intend to approve with a law.”

He combined that coercion can also be a challenge, as larger resources could be compulsory of state agencies to appreciate and exercise these laws.

“Most importantly, workers contingency onslaught to know and claim their rights,” he explained. “I do not doubt that a opposite standards for last practice standing are tailored, as a justice points out, to accommodate a opposite functions of a laws ruling practice family in a state.”

That said, he forked to Maine as one instance of a state that has adopted a uniform standard for last practice standing underneath stagnation insurance, workers’ remuneration and other practice laws, and combined that other states have set onward measures to yield additional superintendence per practice status.

“Whether such reforms would be suitable in Massachusetts is, of course, a doubt for a Legislature,” he said, “and, as this box illustrates, a dire one.”