VTDigger published a press release from the Home Builders & Remodelers Association announcing that the Vermont Supreme Court said a historic restoration expert was an independent contractor. The press release states:
WILLISTON, Vt., Feb 7 – In a victory for home builders and other small businesses Great Northern Construction, a member of the Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Northern Vermont (HBRANV), successfully appealed a state Department of Labor determination that the company had “misclassified” one of its employees as an independent contractor.
In the December 2016 decision, the central issue before the Supreme Court of Vermont was whether the worker, an expert in historic restoration, was an employee of Great Northern Construction under the statutory definition of “employment.”
Claudine Safar, Monaghan Safar Ducham PLLC represented Great Northern Construction (GNC) through both the DOL appeal process and before the VT Supreme Court. Ms. Safar argued that single member LLCs are not subject to the ABC test because of the language in the statute. This is contrary to the current practice of Vermont Department of Labor.
Although the court did not rule on this argument, GNC was successful on the merits of the application of the ABC test to an individual contractor. On the successful conclusion of GNC’s case on this matter, Ms. Safar reflected, “This case marks a significant departure from prior independent contractor case law by recognizing the more complicated application of the ABC test to the construction industry.”
The Vermont Supreme Court agreed with the builder’s assessment that the worker had been free from control or direction by Great Northern Construction, that the service he performed was outside the usual course of the business of the company, and that the worker was customarily engaged in an independently established trade. Bob Schwartz of Great Northern Construction stated, “We are grateful that the Vermont Supreme Court found in our favor, it is clear that a legislative remedy is required to resolve the definitions in order to protect Vermont small businesses from having to extend significant resources to ensure a fair outcome.”
Through its Legal Action Fund, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) provided the HBRA of Northern Vermont $10,000 to help Great Northern Construction contest the case.
“This case was very important to any home builder who hires subcontractors,” said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald, a home builder and developer from Kerrville, Texas. “NAHB is extremely pleased with the verdict and is happy to have helped a member and our local home builders association to fight this unfair classification of a subcontractor as an employee.”