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Monday, February 24, 2020

Worker fighting independent contractor label gets court win; Justices note he wore company hat for three years

State Court

By Kyla Asbury | Feb 12, 2020


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) — The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a Massachusetts man was possibly wrongfully classified as an independent contractor.

The court found that a jury could have reasonably decided that Joel Weiss was actually an employee, as he was provided with his own workstation and supplies and he was paid by the hour and not by the project.

Associate Justice Edward McDonough authored the opinion, which was filed on Jan. 23.

"Suffice it to say that a jury could have found that in reality, Weiss was not free to provide services to anyone of his choice; and that the hat he wore for three years through fifteen different projects had a Loomis label on it," the opinion states.

McDonough also points to a provision in Weiss' contract that states that he was only free to work for other companies if it didn't interfere with his work at Loomis.

Weiss began working with Loomis in September 2010 and continued there through September 2013, when his employment was terminated without explanation or notice, according to the opinion.

The court reversed the directed verdict and remanded the case to the Superior Court for further proceedings.

Weiss, who worked for by Loomis Sayles & Company, argued he was misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee and filed a lawsuit against the company, the opinion states.

"In sum, in order to prevail, Weiss had to prevail on only one of the statutory prongs, and there was evidence from which the jury could have found in favor of Weiss on each of the statutory prongs," McDonough wrote. "At the time the trial judge granted the motion for a directed verdict on the misclassification claim, Loomis had not proven that Weiss was an independent contractor as a matter of law."

McDonough wrote that the directed verdict was done in error and that a new trial is required on the misclassification claim.

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