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Defining an Employee in Boston Workers’ Comp Cases

There is no need to prove any fault on behalf of an employer to collect workers’ compensation in Boston, and it would not matter if there was fault on the part of the employer.  The system was set up to be no-fault.  All that is necessary is to establish  that claimant was injured on the job and claimant was an employee at the time of the workplace accident.

An employee in Boston workers’ compensation cases

work accidents Boston In the Massachusetts workers’ compensation act there is a definitions sections as there is with most other chapters in the Massachusetts General Laws (MGL).  In Chapter 152, Section 1, we find this definitions section. Pursuant to section 1, an employee is generally defined as a person who is hired under a contract to perform services for another. There are various exceptions such as taxi cab drivers, but for the most part, this issues involves whether injured worker is a contractor or an employee.

Most people think of the term contractor when they are talking about someone in the construction trade.  For example, if a person wants a new kitchen, they will often hire a contractor to do the work.  The contractor will have them pick the equipment and what trim they want and then schedule a day to start the job.

In most cases, on the day of construction, the homeowner will let the work crew enter and stay out of their way.  Many do not like to be home during the work. As our Boston workplace injury lawyers can explain, due to the fact that this is a contractor and not an employee, the homeowners do not provide tools, they do not supervise the work, and they do not provide any type of training.

This is not to say that homeowners don’t have any control over the work, and can’t complain if things are done incorrectly, but they are not going to telling the workers how to lay grout and how to cut tiles, and they are not going to make sure the workers are trained properly in how to use the wet saw to cut tiles. They have hired a contractor so this is not necessary.

Since they did not hire employees, they do not need to have workers’ compensation insurance, and it is not their concern if the contractor or one of his workers are injured on the job.  This is not to say the homeowners will not care if someone was injured, but they do not need to compensate anyone for the injury with the payment of workers’ compensation benefits.

On the other hand, the workers themselves may actually be employees of the contractor who hired them to do the job.  This can include hiring them on a one basis as day laborers and it can be a trusty worker that has been with the contractor for years. If a laborer on the job is injured, he or she is mostly likely an employee who will be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

One thing we tend to see is where an employer likes to say they have independent contractors working for them when they really have employees.  Just because the boss is a contractor does not mean anyone who works for him or her is a contractor.  We see this not only in construction jobs, but also in many temporary jobs. For example, if a store is in need of more workers for the holiday rush, they could hire the workers themselves. This would require a lot of effort and expenses for a temporary employee so it might be easier to just call a temp agency and ask for a certain number of workers for a certain day.  The temp agency already has the workers and they provide them to the store.

In this regard, the temp agency is a contractor.  The employees, while they are not store employees directly, they are employees of the temp agency.  If one of these workers is injured on the job, the store is not generally responsible for providing workers’ compensation. The trouble arises when the temp agency claims they are not either because the employees are really independent contractors. While there could theoretically be a situation in which this is true, in the vast majority of cases, this is not true and the temp agency has classified the workers improperly. Improper classification of workers is a serious issues that happens all the time.  the best thing a claimant can do is to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer who has has dealt with this issue in the past.

This is especially a problem with workers who are not native to the United States.  Some unscrupulous employers will hire people who they do not think will complain if they are taken advantage of and they are often right unfortunately.  Claimants should speak with an experienced attorney and know that it is a confidential consultation and they will not get in any trouble for speaking with that lawyer. If the employer takes any type of retaliatory action, that is not allowed and can be the basis for a the filing of a separate cause of action.

If you are the victim of Massachusetts product liability, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Chapter 152, Section 36, Massachusetts General Laws

More Blog Entries:

HVAC Worker in Worcester Dies in Fall Accident, Feb. 13, 2017, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog