Truck Driver: Employee or Independent Contractor?
The most abused aspect of the Workers’ Compensation Act is the misclassification of employees by companies who call the workers “independent contractors” to try and circumvent paying injured workers medical benefits, temporary total and permanency benefits. Signing a contract that calls a worker an independent contractor does not negate Court rulings. Several factors must be weighed to determine if a worker is covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act.
The right to control the work and the nature of the work are the two most important considerations.
The factors establishing an employment relationship are: requiring a pre-employment physical, drug test, orientation program, displaying the name of the company on the worker’s truck, requiring that the company be notified of any accident, and the ability to restrict the number of hours a worker can drive. Also, requiring that the worker call a dispatcher throughout the day and the right to discharge a worker for any reason, points to an employment relationship.
The Court will examine the nature of the work performed by the worker in relationship to the general business of the company. The Courts have held that a worker, whose services form a regular part of the cost of the product, is presumptively within the area of intended protection of the Workers’ Compensation Act. The trucking company’s business is transporting machinery and product between sellers and buyers. The worker’s job was transporting the goods for the trucking customer’s business. The Courts have held that the worker is an employee of the company, even though he owns the trailer-tractor.
There are more factors that weigh towards the employment relationship and other factors that weigh in favor of an independent contractor. This is a very complex issue so call if you have any questions.