Shady employers cheat the Government and employees by calling their workers independent contractors when they really aren’t. It happens to no profession more than truck drivers.
There was a recent court case decided in favor of a truck driver who was told he wasn’t an employee and did a great job of showing why he is.
A little back story. This driver delivered freight for a trucking company. One day he was unloading product from his truck and slipped, causing a back injury. He filed for workers’ compensation benefits and was denied as they called him an independent contractor.
At trial he testified that he was not told which routes to take when making his deliveries, but was told which product to load, where to deliver it and when to do it. He further testified that he hauled EXCLUSIVELY for the defendant and the Arbitrator noted that his deliveries were per-determined by the employer and started the same time every week. Also, the employer had the right to fire the driver at will and did so when the injured worker could no longer do his job. In addition he had to take a pre-employment drug test.
While there were some issues that pointed to him being a contractor, namely that he owned the truck and had the ability to hire his brother to help him perform the work, the biggest point was that the trucking company had a right of control over him.
In any similar case, there will always be evidence not in your favor. If you are a 1099 or signed an agreement that says you are not an employee, they will use that against you. Bottom line for this driver or for you not matter what profession you are in is how much control do they have over you.
If you look at my office, I could call my secretary a contractor, but the reality is that I set her hours, tell her what to do and could fire her whenever I want. She has the ability to work for others outside of normal working hours, but from 9-4:30 she works for me. She’s clearly an employee. Contrast that with a woman who answered an ad of mine looking for someone to perform a research project. While I’m instructing her on what needs to be done, she does it from home at her leisure and can do other jobs for other people and my work on the side. She’s clearly a contractor.
A lot of business owners think they are smarter than they are or try to pull a fast one. The good news is that Illinois work comp law has a lot of common sense in it. No matter what they call you, if they control you then you should be able to win benefits.