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Cejas Commercial Interiors, Inc. v. Torres-Lizama

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 12-18-2013
Case #: A148291
Duncan, J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; and Brewer, J. pro tempore.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A148291.pdf

Employment Law: The economic-realities test is the appropriate test to determine whether an entity has functional control over a worker, even if formal control is absent.

Felix and Jorge Torres-Lizama appeal a judgment that they were not employed by Cejas Commercial Interiors, Inc. (“Cejas”), a drywall contractor. Viewpoint Construction, LLC (“Viewpoint”), a subcontractor selected by Cejas to hang and tape sheets of drywall on unobstructed walls, contacted the Torres-Lizama brothers to work on the 20th and Hawthorne project. The Torres-Lizama brothers performed the drywall work and were not paid for the work they completed. Both brothers had worked for Viewpoint’s foreman in the past and believed they had previously worked on other Cejas’s projects. However, neither brother had ever been on Cejas’s payroll. The Court applied an economic-realities test, overruling prior decisions using a right-to-control test, focusing on whether an entity has a functional control over a worker even if there is no formal control. The brothers were significantly integrated into the production process because their work was not temporary or sporadic. Also, the Torres-Lizama brothers were not part of an independent business because they relied on the employer’s direction, equipment, and judgment. The Court held that Cejas neither formally nor functionally controlled the terms and conditions of the brothers’ employment, and the brothers were economically dependent on Viewpoint and not Cejas. Affirmed.