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MA Court Clarifies Test To Determine Who Is An “Employee” For Purposes of Workers' Compensation Coverage

Published:  May 15, 2018

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court clarified the statutory definition of an independent contractor under the Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Act last week. As many employers are aware, MA law defines who is an employee and who is an independent contract differently for purposes of workers' compensation, minimum wage, and tax withholding.   

The case decided by the SJC last week (Ives Carmago’s Case) upheld the Department of Industrial Accidents’ (“DIA”) finding that Carmago was an independent contractor and therefore not eligible for workers' compensation benefits. In making its determination, the DIA used its long followed ten factor test to determine whether an individual is an employee or independent contractor. In agreeing with the DIA’s determination, the SJC specifically discredited an argument by Carmago’s attorney that the DIA should have used the factors set forth in the Massachusetts Wage Act to determine whether she was an independent contractor or employee.

While this ruling clarifies the definition of “employee” that will be used at the DIA, employers still need to be aware that simply labeling someone an “independent contractor” does not necessarily mean that makes it so. In the event the “independent contractor” ever argued that they were, in fact, an employee and not an independent contractor, the employer’s classification will not necessarily rule the day. The DIA, the Courts, and other administrative agencies will look at the facts of what the person actually does in their daily responsibilities to determine whether they are, in fact, an employee or independent contractor.

If you have any questions about any labor and employment law matters, please contact the attorneys at Royal, P.C.

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