Pennsylvania Court Rules Owner-Operator Was Employee
September 22, 1999
The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled that a Schneider owner-operator was actually an employee and entitled to worker's compensation benefits.
While working for Schneider, the claimant was injured in an accident and filed for workers' comp. Schneider argued that the claimant was an independent contractor, as defined in its contract with the trucker.
According to the Pennsylvania Law Weekly, the fact that Schneider and the trucker had a contract that defined the trucker as an independent contractor was not enough to prove that relationship, the court said. It cited too many factors that showed the employer controlled the manner in which the claimant performed his work. For instance, Schneider required that the trucker's equipment be submitted for inspection at its request at facilities approved by Schneider. Schneider provided a credit card for fuel purchases and required that the claimant attend its orientation program. The claimant's right to hire personnel was severely limited.
Although the truck driver was responsible for maintaining his workers' compensation coverage, his agreement with Schneider did not give him control over that decision. Schneider enrolled the owner-operator in the National Assn. of Independent Truckers' occupational accident program instead of requiring him to get his own workers' comp insurance. It even deducted money from his pay for the program.
Schneider argued that some of the controls it exercised were required by federal regulations, such as requiring him to keep a logbook and take mandatory physical and drug tests. However, the court rejected this contention.