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Independent Contractor Rule Expanded

Independent Contractor Rule Expanded

The Court of Appeal upheld a WCAB decision expanding the definition of “independent contractor.” The Court found a gardener, who was injured in a fall, was not an employee and therefore his injury was not covered by workers’ compensation.  Lara v. WCAB (2ndDist. Court of Appeal).

The applicant worked on a temporary basis for many clients, generally obtaining work by phone or by standing on a street corner.  On this occasion, he was hired by the wife of a diner’s manager to trim foliage hanging from the front of the diner.  He had done the same work the previous year.

The Court emphasized that when the applicant was hired, the method and means of doing the job were not discussed, only the result desired.  Also, the applicant had some investment in the tools for the job and his work was not what is usually done in the course of the hirer’s business, i.e., running a diner.

Other factors supporting independent contractor status include applicant’s testimony that no one told him exactly how to do the pruning, he worked without supervision, and he chose both the date and time of the service.

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