The Washington Supreme Court issued a decision yesterday in Anfinson v. FedEx Ground Package Sys., Inc. At play here was whether former FedEx delivery drivers were considered employees or independent contractors. The issue of discrepancy between employee vs. independent contractor concerned whether the former delivery drivers were entitled to overtime pay under Washington's Minimum Wage Act (RCW 49.46). Generally, employees are entitled to overtime pay, whereas independent contractors are in business for themselves and not entitled to overtime pay.
At the trial court level, a jury determined that the former drivers were not employees and therefore not entitled overtime pay. However, the Court of Appeals and the WA Supreme Court determined that the jury instructions were erroneous and reversed the decision. Applying a more liberal construction of the definition of employee, the WA Supreme Court issued in the economic-dependence test, relying largely upon the decision in Hopkins v. Cornerstone Am., 545 F.3d 338, 343 (5th Cir. 2008). The decision stated as follows:
"In sum, we hold that the definition of "employee" in RCW 49.46.010(3) incorporates the economic-dependence test developed by the federal courts in interpreting the FLSA. The relevant inquiry is "whether, as a matter of economic reality, the worker is economically dependent upon the alleged employer or is instead in business for himself." Hopkins, 545 F.3d at 343; see also Schultz, 466 F.3d at 304; Brock v. Superior Care, Inc., 840 F.2d 1054, 1059 (2d Cir. 1988). This articulation is particularly helpful because the inclusion of the phrase "in business for himself" clarifies the meaning of the otherwise-vague term "economically dependent.""
So it appears the former delivery drivers will be given another day in court on this matter.