In a lengthy analysis of the “economic realities” test as applied to cable installers, the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed Judge Elizabeth A. Kovachevich of the Middle District of Florida's 2012 decision finding cable installers to be properly classified as independent contractors. Scantland, et al. v. Jeffry Knight, Inc., et al., 11th Cir. Case No. 12-12614, 07/16/13.
Distinguishing earlier cases holding on summary judgment that cable installers were properly classified as contractors, the Court found those decisions “unpersuasive in light of the specific facts” of the case. Because four of the six economic realities factors favored employee status in the instant case, the Court ruled that “with all justifiable inferences drawn in their favor, plaintiffs were ‘employees’” under the FLSA, and thus summary judgment for the employer was inappropriate.
Employers continue to see challenges to the independent contractor classification, both from usual suspects and more outside-the-box claimants. All businesses must monitor their relationships with sole proprietors and all contractors, and analyze those relationships under applicable federal and state guidance.