Oregon purse salesman: Independent contractor or employee?

red handbagFrom HR.BLR.com, Joanna Perini Abbot writes about a recent case involving a salesperson for high-end handbags.  She reports that the court determined that the question of classification of employee or independent contractor is for the jury.  She writes:

Independent contractor or employee?

[the saleperson’s] claim for unpaid wages hinged on whether he was an independent contractor or an employee. He had a right to compensation (plus an additional 30-day penalty wage) only if he was an employee. Oregon applies a number of tests to determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, depending on the situation.

Courts apply a right-of-control test to determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee for purposes of the wage law. Courts consider four factors in determining whether an employer has a right to control a worker:

  1. Direct evidence of the right to control;
  2. Whether the employer furnishes tools and equipment to the worker;
  3. The method of payment; and
  4. The right to fire.

In this case, the judge found that no facts were in dispute and that all four factors generally weighed in favor of an independent contractor relationship. When no facts are in dispute, a court often can determine whether a claim should proceed to trial.

The court, however, found some ambiguity in the outcome of the test based on the mandatory travel to New York for market week and the requirements placed on [the salesperson] while he was there. Because of that ambiguity, the judge denied [the company’s] attempt to have [the saleperson’s] claims dismissed. The judge held that under Oregon law, a legal question that hinges on the interpretation of a series of facts should go to a jury, even if the facts are undisputed….”

Read the full story at Oregon purse salesman: Independent contractor or employee?.

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