Cable-installation contractor prevails in suit filed by technicians

April 16, 2012
Florida lawsuit was filed by cabling technicians who claimed they were employees, not independent contractors.

In an article that appears on Mondaq, attorney Guilene F. Theodore of the Florida law firm Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoke and Stewart, P.C. outlines the key points of a recent court decision involving a cable-installation contractor and the technicians that performed installations for the contractor.

In the case Scantland v. Jeffry Knight Inc., the plaintiffs were current and former technicians engaged to perform the installation, service and repair of cable TV, high-speed internet and digital telephone for customers of Bright House Networks. The plaintiffs claimed to be employees of Jeffry Knight Inc. and the defendant claimed they were independent contractors. The court sided with the defendant.

In her article on Mondaq, attorney Theodore explains, "The court determined that the following factors weighed more heavily in favor of independent contractor status than employee status:

  • "The nature and degree of control over the manner in which the work was performed by the technician installers;
  • "The technicians' opportunity for profit and loss;
  • "The technicians' investment in equipment and materials or employment of helpers; and
  • "The skill required for performing the work."

Despite the defendant's win, a number of factors did favor the plaintiffs' claim that they were employees, including "the duration and degree of permanency of the working relationship, and the fact that the installation and repair services performed by the technician was an integral part of Knight's installation services," Theodore says.

The article provides detail on each of those six factors - the four that favored the defendant and the two that favored the plaintiff.

She states that the case "is significant for companies with cable and internet installation and repair subcontracts because of the court's recognition that given the level of control exercised by the technicians, they stood as a separate economic entity from Knight."

In rendering the decision, Judge Elizabeth A. Kovachevich wrote, "The factors of the nature and degree of control over the manner in which the work is performed, the opportunity for profit and loss, investment in materials, and the presence of special skill clearly outweigh the factors of duration and service rendered as an integral part of the business. The economic realities of Plaintiffs' relationship with Knight Enterprises support a finding that the relationship is a typical outsourcing arrangement, and is not a sham arrangement entered into to evade the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act."

You can read attorney Theodore's article on Mondaq here.

You can read the full order from Judge Kovachevich, including 28 statements of fact, here via Google Scholar.

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