The Past Is Prologue for the NLRB and Independent Contractors

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has returned to its longstanding independent-contractor standard, reaffirming the board’s adherence to the traditional common law test.  In doing so, the board clarified the role entrepreneurial opportunity plays in its determination of independent-contractor status, as the D.C. Circuit has recognized.

NLRB-returns-to-independent-contractor-determinationThe case, SuperShuttle DFW, Inc., involved shuttle-van-driver franchisees of SuperShuttle at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. Applying its clarified standard, the board concluded that the franchisees are not statutory employees under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), but rather independent contractors excluded from the act’s coverage.

The board found that the franchisees’ leasing or ownership of their work vans, their method of compensation, and their nearly unfettered control over their daily work schedules and working conditions provided the franchisees with significant entrepreneurial opportunity for economic gain.

These factors, along with the absence of supervision and the parties’ understanding that the franchisees are independent contractors, resulted in the board’s finding that the franchisees are not employees under the act.  The decision affirms the acting regional director’s finding that the franchisees are independent contractors.

Today’s decision overrules FedEx Home Delivery, a 2014 NLRB decision that modified the applicable test for determining independent-contractor status by severely limiting the significance of a worker’s entrepreneurial opportunity for economic gain.

Chairman John F. Ring was joined by Members Marvin E. Kaplan and William J. Emanuel in the majority opinion.  Member Lauren McFerran dissented.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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