Oregon Supreme Court: Taxicab Drivers Not Independent Contractors

Posted on Dec 11, 2015

In a recent Oregon Supreme Court case, the Court found that Broadway Cab was responsible to pay unemployment taxes for some of its drivers.

This case found its way to the Supreme Court from an administrative hearing where an administrative law judge found that the company owed the State of Oregon unemployment insurance payments. The Court stopped short of calling the driver's employees, but did agree that the taxicab company failed to show that the drivers were independent contractors.

This case has other ramifications. Recently, the City of Portland allowed the ridesharing services Uber to operate within city limits. However, the State of Oregon Department of Labor has asserted that Uber drivers are employees, and not independent contractors.

As for the worker himself, whether he is an employee or an independent contractor can become a major issue if the worker is injured on the job. Oregon Workers' Compensation law requires that employers ensure "subject workers" for workers' compensation claims. Sometimes, whether somebody is in fact a "subject worker" is a major issue, and often the only way an injured worker can obtain benefits.

In the workers' compensation system, whether somebody is an employee or an independent contractor depends upon the level of control exerted over the worker. For example, an employee is someone whose means and manner of work or controlled by the employer. Other factors include whether the employee works under the employer's assumed business name, at their location, works under set hours, and is not directly affected by the employer's profits or losses.

The Workers' Compensation Division will also look at who provides equipment and tools, who purchases materials and supplies, and whether the employee has the option of quitting at any time.

Not only our workers' compensation benefits at risk, but as explained above, unemployment coverage, overtime protections, and other civil rights protections are at stake depending on the classification of worker.


Joe Di Bartolomeo
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