A common issue that stands between workers and “employers” is who qualifies for workers’ compensation benefits when the worker is injured on the job. Well, in most cases, if a worker is brought on to complete a task as an independent contractor, they typically don’t qualify for these benefits. However, there are certain circumstances when someone who is hired for a job under these conditions may still be able to collect workers’ compensation benefits if they are involved in a work-related accident.
In a recent case that has been escalated to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, two parties have been faced with this issue. Ives Camargo, who worked for Publishers Circulation Fulfilment (PCF), is claiming that she fell while at a PCF facility and did so again in 2011 while delivering papers. The company is currently contracted with numerous newspapers, some of which include the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, and the New York Times. Camargo “had several periods of disability related to injuries from the fall” and later lost her job in 2012, according to Mass Live.
She believes that she should receive workers’ compensation benefits, but PCF claims she works for them as an independent contractor. A fight between Camargo and the delivery servicer’s insurer broke out which led to her bringing her case before the Department of Industrial Accidents, appeals and reviews. It was later brought to the Supreme Judicial Court as mentioned above. The court documents highlight that Camargo believes she should be considered as an employee for purposes of workers’ compensation but the company feels differently.
The attorney representing PCF stated that Camargo had a contract with PCF identifying herself as an independent contractor. She was able to write off business expenses on her taxes and even hired substitutes when she could not come in. The lawyer also mentioned that “she operated with almost zero control from the delivery company.” But, Camargo argues that she “had specific obligation she had to meet under her contract with PCF.”
In past cases, individuals working for newspaper delivery companies were considered to be independent contractors and were often limited in the benefits they are eligible to receive from the company. If newspaper deliverers are considered to be employees for the company in which they perform a task for, newspapers would have to pay for workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance, withhold taxes, and adhere to wage and hour rules. Currently, independent contractors aren’t subjected to this which may be an indication to Camargo that she might not win this battle.
In any event, Camargo is being represented by a Boston workers’ compensation attorney who is sure to have her best interest in mind during this time of litigation. Whether she will win her case depends on certain laws, past cases, and the judge’s ruling.