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SAIF v. DCBS

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 06-06-2012
Case #: A147036
Walters, J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; and Duncan, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/Publications/A147036.pdf

Workers Compensation: The status of a "worker" requires the application of both the "right to control" and the "nature of the work" tests.

SAIF Corporation (SAIF) appealed the Department of Consumer and Business Services Insurance Division's (DCBS) determination that employees of Northwest Children's Theater (NWCT) were independent contractors and, therefore, not entitled to workers compensation benefits. NWCT, an acting school and theater for children, provided worker's compensation insurance to only 13 of their many employees. SAIF's appeal asked the court to determine whether the NWCT employee's were independent contractors, or "workers," as defined under ORS 656.005(30). The Court looked specifically at two tests to determine an employee's status as a "worker," the "right to control" test and the "nature of the work" test. The "right to control" test weighs four factors: (1) evidence of control, (2) furnishing of equipment or tools, (3) payment method, and (4) the right to fire. The "nature of the work" test consists of (1) the character of the work and skill required and (2) the regularity of the relationship between the person's work and the business. Because the Court of Appeals found evidence that NWCT had a right to control the performance of its instructors, production designers, and actors, DCBS erred in only applying the "right to control" test without also applying the "nature of the work" test. Reversed and Remanded.