Employee or Independent Contractor?

Judge Says 40-Year Newspaper Carrier Is an Employee, Not Contractor

From Courthouse News Service, Carson McCullough reports that a “newspaper dealer” was found to be misclassified as an independent contractor. Carson writes:

(CN) — A newspaper carrier was improperly classified as an independent contractor by the Hearst Communications media company, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

In his 11-page ruling, [U.S. District Judge William] Alsup found Martel’s claims hinge on the precedent in S.G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations. The judge in that case found a group of harvesters were employees and not independent contractors because of how much control their employer had over the manner and means in which they did their work. In other words, if an employer controls enough different factors in how a worker does their job, that worker is in fact an employee.

Alsup noted the contract between Hearst and Martel clearly outlines what is expected of Martel and how he is to do his job. The contract states that the Martel must deliver the papers in a “clean, dry, undamaged and readable condition” no later than 6 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 7:30 a.m. on Sundays.

The contract also lays out how and when the newspapers will be made available to Martel for delivery. There are specific hours that the newspapers will be ready for Martel to pick up at a warehouse, and that any failure to pick or deliver the newspapers on time could be deemed a breach of contract.

While Hearst argued the terms of its contract with Martel offer him some freedom in how he does his job — he can choose what vehicle he uses, the order in which he runs his route and where he sorts the newspapers before delivery — Alsup found otherwise.

“In reality, however, there are crucial restrictions in the way plaintiff completes his job,” Alsup wrote.

He found Martel lacks control over the facilities needed to complete his delivery tasks, while the vehicle he uses to complete his deliveries really comes down to Martel’s ability to afford a delivery vehicle separate from a personal-use vehicle. Even the space that Martel uses to sort the papers is not under his full control, as the area that he uses is subleased from Hearst, Alsup found.

Read the full story at: Judge Says 40-Year Newspaper Carrier Is an Employee, Not Contractor

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