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Mom’s Not An Independent Contractor

In Bradford’s Trucking, Inc. v. Department of Labor, 2015 VT 85 (June 19, 2015), the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed an Employment Security Board determination that three individuals were employees of Bradford’s Trucking rather than independent contractors.

Issue: Defendant company was assessed unpaid unemployment taxes for three of its employees by the Department of Labor. The three employees in question (the mother of the company president, the fiancée of the company president, and a friend of the mother) all worked as bookkeepers for the defendant. The defendant contended that the individuals were not employees of the company and thus it was not liable for the unpaid taxes. The defendant appealed to an administrative law judge and then to the Employment Security Board. Both affirmed the Department of Labor’s decision that the individuals were employees of the company, and the defendant sought review by the Court.

Holding: Under 21 V.S.A. § 1301(6)(B), all workers paid wages by the employer are presumed to be employees, unless the employer can meet all three elements of statutory exception known as the ABC test. In a straightforward application of the ABC test to the three individuals in question, and the Court found that each individual failed to meet the exception. The Court upheld the ruling of the Employment Security Board.

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