All webinars begin with a 10-15 minute overview of a general topic, and then a Question and Answer session is held for the balance of the time. Questions can be on any topic in workers’ compensation law (not limited to the topic). Handout materials are provided in advance of each session.
All webinars begin with a 10-15 minute overview of a general topic, and then a Q & A session is held for the balance of the time. Questions can be on any topic in workers’ compensation law (not limited to the topic). Handout materials are provided in advance of each session.
A frequent issue that arises in New Jersey workers’ compensation cases is whether or not the petitioner is an employee or an independent contractor. In a recent case, decided October 26, 2018, The appeals panel in New Jersey answered this question in a case involving a cab dispatching service. After trial, the Workers’ Compensation Law Judge dismissed the claims of Julio Pendola against Milenio Express finding that Pendola was not Milenio’s employee despite the fact that the alleged employer had never paid the alleged employee. On appeal the Appellate Division reversed. Here’s why.
Facts From the Trial
The trial judge found that Pendola, a cab driver, was not employed by Milenio because:
Pendola supplied his own car.
Pendola supplied his own equipment, like the two way radio used to dispatch him.
Pendola owned the “medallion” on the cab (the license to operate as a taxi);
Pendola paid for his own gas, maintenance, and insurance on his car.
The Petitioner was not paid by the company and in fact paid the company $150 per week for the dispatched fares.
the Claimant testified that he never shared or remitted any portion of fares to the company; he kept 100% of all fares.
Against all of that, Pendola argued that he was an employee for the following reasons:
Pendola testified that he had provided driving services exclusively to Milenio since 2003.
Before he purchased his car, a Ford Crown Victoria, he consulted with Milenio who required he paint the car silver, affix the taxi company logo to it, along with the Company’s phone number.
The company provided Pendola with business cards, receipts, and vouchers.
Pendola also claimed he only picked up passengers from location when dispatched by the company.
Pendola testified that the company required his to be well dressed, keep his car clean, and promptly pick up fares. The company punished drivers who failed to follow those basic requirements by not sending them dispatches for a few hours or the rest of the day.
Employees are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, while independent contractors are not.
An employer would concede a claimants’ employment status when he is clearly an employee, but there are times when an employer would hold out that a claimant is an independent contractor. In these situations, workers’ compensation benefits are denied, and the Court would be tasked with making a determination of whether the claimant is an employee or an independent contractor.
Statutorily, in New Jersey, all employers are required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance for all “employees” by either a valid workers’ compensation insurance policy or through self-insurance (based upon the financial ability of the employer to meet its obligations under the law and the permanence of the business). In some states employers can “opt-out” of the mandatory workers’ compensation requirements. New Jersey is not one of those states.