11th Circuit Court of Appeals Holds Cable Installers are Employees Subject to FLSA – Los Angeles Wage & Hour Claims Attorneys Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik

by Norman B. Blumenthal on August 30, 2013

contractorsThe Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has overturned a district court decision which held that cable installers were independent contractors, not employees, and therefore not subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) jurisdiction.  Under the FLSA, employees are entitled to overtime pay for work performed over 8 hours per day, or 40 hours per week.

The plaintiffs in this conditionally certified collective action are current and former technicians who installed and repaired cable, internet, and digital phone services.  Applying the six-factor test for determining independent contractor status, the district court held that the installers were properly classified as independent contractors and therefore granted the defendants summary judgment.

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals found the district court applied the six-factor test too rigidly and in a reapplication found there was a sufficient question of facts to indicate the installers were actually employees:

  1. “The company provided the technicians with training, exercised some control over their daily schedules, provided them daily work assignments, set (and could unilaterally change) the codes that determined their pay, conducted quality control assessments of the technicians’ work, could provide remedial training for poor training, and levied “chargebacks” for various infractions of the business’s requirements.
  2. The technicians were dependent on the company to provide them work, could not negotiate or otherwise determine the rates they were paid for that work, and were otherwise limited in their ability to control the profits and losses related to their work for the company’s customers.
  3. Though technicians were required to have vehicles, auto and commercial general liability insurance, and tools and safety equipment, that did little to detract from their economic dependence on the company because most already owned a vehicle when they came to work for the company and owned (or came to own) their own tools and equipment.
  4. Most technicians acquired their skills directly through the company’s training program, followed by ride-alongs with experienced technicians; in other words, they were dependent upon the company to equip them with the skills necessary to do their jobs.
  5. A “permanence of relationship” existed between the company and technicians.  The technicians worked for the company for almost 5 years, on average.  Their contracts were for year terms and automatically renewed.  They worked long weeks and could not turn down the company’s work orders—in reality, they did not have time to seek work from other customers.  Thus, not only was their relationship permanent, it was also exclusive.
  6. The service the technicians provided was an integral part of the company’s business.  Describing installation services as its “backbone,” approximately two-thirds of the company’s business consisted of installation and repair services.  With the technicians’ work impacting such a large portion of its business, the company exercised careful control over how the technicians provides services to its customers.”

Case remanded for back to the district court for trial.  Michael Scantland, et al v. Jeffry Knight, Inc., et al.

If you work as a cable installer and are not being paid overtime, call an experienced Los Angeles labor attorney today at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik at (310) 981-3918.  Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik is a California employment law firm with offices located in San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The firm dedicates its practice to contingency fee employment law work for issues involving misclassification as a salaried worker exempt from overtime, failure to pay vacation wages, misclassification as an independent contractor, off-the-clock work, wrongful termination, discrimination and other California labor laws.

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